That Looks Noisy: Creating an accessible self-report hearing questionnaire

Authors: Samuel Couth1, Emanuele Perugia1, Gabrielle Saunders2

1University of Manchester
2Manchester Centre for Audiology and Deafness

Background: Self-report hearing loss questionnaires typically use written statements about day-to-day listening situations that patients rate in terms of their ability to hear and/or cope. Accordingly, these assessment tools are language and literacy dependent, and are subject to individual differences in interpretation of the text. To address these issues, the current study aimed to develop and validate an ‘Image-based questionnaire’ (IBQ) in which written descriptions of listening situations are replaced with images (photographs).

Methods: All parts of this study were conducted online. Experiment 1: The 14 listening scenarios of the Common Sound Scenarios (CoSS) framework were chosen as IBQ items. Participants (n = 71) rated how well they thought they would hear in scenarios depicted by 84 images (6/CoSS scenario), and selected the image(s) that best represented a specified scenario. For each CoSS scenario, the two images most often selected were chosen for inclusion in Experiment 2. Experiment 2: Participants (n = 42) described what they thought they would be listening to/trying to hear in each image. For each CoSS scenario, the image most often described ‘correctly’ was selected for the final 14-item IBQ.
Experiment 3: Participants (n = 55) completed the final 14-item IBQ, the text-based equivalent of the IBQ (TBQ), the Glasgow Hearing Aid Benefit Profile (GHABP), and digits-in-noise (DiN) test.

Results: The IBQ and TBQ had better correlations with DiN thresholds than the GHABP. Participants significantly preferred, found easier, and were more confident completing the IBQ than TBQ. Free-text responses highlighted the advantages of the IBQ over text-based questionnaires as the photographs enhanced realism and understanding of listening scenarios.

Conclusions: The IBQ has potential as an accessible clinical self-report outcome measure. Future research aims to validate the IBQ against standard clinical measures (i.e. pure tone audiometry).