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Assessing Binaural Hearing: Results Using the Speech, Spatial and Qualities of Hearing Scale
06 August 2020 (online)
Background: Binaural hearing is important for hearing target signals against competing ones, and for spatial hearing.
Purpose: Survey of results using the Speech, Spatial and Qualities of Hearing scale (SSQ), a measure emphasizing contexts that rely on binaural hearing ability. Results show that self-rating can identify binaural hearing influences and benefits.
Research Designs: Retrospective design compared fitting with one versus two hearing aids. Prospective design compared one versus two cochlear implants. Brief descriptions are made of studies using other comparative designs.
Study Samples: There were 69 new adult-age clients of an audiology clinic with unilateral hearing aid fittings, 34 with bilateral (and n = 63 in a pre-aided sample); there were 14 people with one cochlear implant (CI), 18 with two; in both CI groups, age ranged from 20 to 90 yr.
Data Collection and Analysis: The data are scores on the 49 items comprising the SSQ, grouped into 10 “pragmatic” subscales, analyzed using t-tests and ANOVA.
Results: Two aids offer advantage for challenging conditions (e.g., multistream signal monitoring), for dynamic spatial hearing, and in reducing listening effort. These outcomes are observable, though less distinctly, in one versus two implants. Overall advantage of two implants is very clear in a 20–59-yr-old cohort of patients. Recent application and development of the SSQ indicates sensitivity to subtle differences in abilities.
Conclusions: Self-report data are valuable in revealing the everyday listening domains in which improvement in binaural hearing function provides beneficial outcomes.