Purpose: This study aimed to compare objective speech recognition and subjective hearing handicap outcomes as a function of a degree of hearing loss. Methods: 120 elderly listeners participated, ranging in age from 60-83 years. Listeners' degrees of hearing loss were derived corresponding to a newly proposed World Health Organization hearing impairment grading system. As objective outcomes, word and sentence recognition scores (WRS, SRS) in quiet were measured at an individually determined most comfortable level. The SRS in noise were obtained at 0 dB signal-to-noise ratio. The Korean Evaluation Scale for Hearing Handicap questionnaire for non-hearing aid users was used to evaluate the effects of hearing status on social and psychological aspects. Results: Within the same grading of hearing impairment, listeners tended to show a large individual variability in speech-in-noise recognition and subjective hearing handicaps. Listeners with even mild impairment had more reductions in SRS in noise and more handicaps in an interpersonal relationship compared to normal-hearing listeners. Among the listeners with no impairment or mild hearing impairment, listeners who had poorer sentence-in-noise scores actually showed greater hearing handicaps. The sentence-in-noise scores plus WRS explained the subjective hearing handicap by about 40%. Conclusion: The elderly with normal hearing or mild hearing loss can have reduced communication abilities in background noise, resulting in a negative effect on their social and psychological aspects. It is recommended to conduct the sentence-in-noise intelligibility test and the subjective hearing handicap survey as a standard audiometric measures to confirm the functional communication problems for the elderly.
- Korean evaluation scale for hearing handicap
- Sentence-in-noise intelligibility
- World health organization-proposed hearing impairment grading system