Smartphone-based audiometric test for screening hearing loss in the elderly

Sara Abu-Ghanem, Ophir Handzel*, Lior Ness, Miri Ben-Artzi-Blima, Karin Fait-Ghelbendorf, Mordechai Himmelfarb

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations

Abstract

Hearing loss is widespread among the elderly. One of the main obstacles to rehabilitation is identifying individuals with potentially correctable hearing loss. Smartphone-based hearing tests can be administered at home, thus greatly facilitating access to screening. This study evaluates the use of a smartphone application as a screening tool for hearing loss in individuals aged ≥65 years. Twenty-six subjects aged 84.4 ± 6.73 years (mean ± SD) were recruited. Pure-tone audiometry was administered by both a smartphone application (uHear for iPhone, v1.0 Unitron, Canada) and a standard portable audiometer by trained personnel. Participants also completed a questionnaire on their hearing. Pure-tone thresholds were compared between the two testing modalities and correlated with the questionnaire results. The cutoff point for failing screening tests was a pure tone average of 40 dB for the frequencies 250–6,000 Hz. The smartphone application’s pure tone thresholds were higher (poorer hearing) than the audiometric thresholds, with a significant difference in all frequencies but 2,000 Hz. The application and the audiometric values were in agreement for 24 subjects (92 %). The application had a sensitivity of 100 % and specificity of 60 % for screening compared with the audiometer. The questionnaire was significantly less accurate, having assigned a passing score to three participants who failed both the application and audiometric tests. While a smartphone application may not be able to accurately determine the level of hearing impairment, it is useful as a highly accessible portable audiometer substitute for screening for hearing loss in elderly populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-339
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology
Volume273
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2016

Keywords

  • Audiometry
  • Elderly
  • Hearing loss
  • Mobile applications
  • Screening

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