J Am Acad Audiol 2015; 26(08): 716-723
DOI: 10.3766/jaaa.14092
American Academy of Audiology. All rights reserved. (2015) American Academy of Audiology

Development and Validation of a Portable Hearing Self-Testing System Based on a Notebook Personal Computer

Yan Liu
Dong Yang
Fen Xiong
Lan Yu
Fei Ji
Qiu-Ju Wang
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
06 August 2020 (online)

Background: Hearing loss affects more than 27 million people in mainland China. It would be helpful to develop a portable and self-testing audiometer for the timely detection of hearing loss so that the optimal clinical therapeutic schedule can be determined.

Purpose: The objective of this study was to develop a software-based hearing self-testing system.

Research Design: The software-based self-testing system consisted of a notebook computer, an external sound card, and a pair of 10-Ω insert earphones. The system could be used to test the hearing thresholds by individuals themselves in an interactive manner using software. The reliability and validity of the system at octave frequencies of 0.25 Hz to 8.0 kHz were analyzed in three series of experiments.

Study Sample: Thirty-seven normal-hearing particpants (74 ears) were enrolled in experiment 1. Forty individuals (80 ears) with sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) participated in experiment 2. Thirteen normal-hearing participants (26 ears) and 37 participants (74 ears) with SNHL were enrolled in experiment 3. Each participant was enrolled in only one of the three experiments.

Data Collection and Analysis: In all experiments, pure-tone audiometry in a sound insulation room (standard test) was regarded as the gold standard. SPSS for Windows, version 17.0, was used for statistical analysis. The paired t-test was used to compare the hearing thresholds between the standard test and software-based self-testing (self-test) in experiments 1 and 2. In experiment 3 (main study), one-way analysis of variance and post hoc comparisons were used to compare the hearing thresholds among the standard test and two rounds of the self-test. Linear correlation analysis was carried out for the self-tests performed twice. The concordance was analyzed between the standard test and the self-test using the kappa method. p < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.

Results: Experiments 1 and 2: The hearing thresholds determined by the two methods were not significantly different at frequencies of 250, 500, or 8000 Hz (p > 0.05) but were significantly different at frequencies of 1000, 2000, and 4000 Hz (p < 0.05), except for 1000 Hz in the right ear in experiment 2. Experiment 3: The hearing thresholds determined by the standard test and self-tests repeated twice were not significantly different at any frequency (p > 0.05). The overall sensitivity of the self-test method was 97.6%, and the specificity was 98.3%. The sensitivity was 97.6% and the specificity was 97% for the patients with SNHL. The self-test had significant concordance with the standard test (kappa value = 0.848, p < 0.001).

Conclusions: This portable hearing self-testing system based on a notebook personal computer is a reliable and sensitive method for hearing threshold assessment and monitoring.