Accuracy of Subjective Reports of Hearing

Accuracy of Subjective Reports of Hearing

April 10, 2015 In the News

Kamil, Genther, and Lin (2015) examined the relationship between objective and subjective reports of hearing loss. Specifically, they examined 3,557 reports from people enrolled in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (from two cycles: 1999–2006 and 2009–2010). All participants were 50 years of age or older, and each had completed a subjective hearing assessment and had completed an audiometric evaluation.

Classifications were based on percent correct/incorrect and were stratified across multiple demographic including gender, age, race/ethnicity and education. The demographics of the participants included 1,770 men and 1,787 women, 862 people aged 50–59, 1026 people aged 60–69, 1029 people aged 70–79, and 640 people aged 80-plus.

Participants included 692 Hispanic people, 2,153 White  people , 590 Black people, and 122 were listed as “other.” With regard to education, 1,242 had less than a high school education, 832 had high school as their highest education level, 802 had some college or an associate degree, 677 had graduated college (or more), and 4 participants education level was unknown.

Self reports of hearing revealed the following:

  • "Excellent or good" hearing for 2,111
  • "A little trouble" hearing for 954
  • "Moderate/a lot of trouble" hearing for 481
  • "Deaf" for 11 participants

Kamil, Genther, and Lin report that younger people (of the 3,557 people evaluated) tended to overestimate their hearing loss, while older people tended to underestimate their hearing impairment. In general, the authors report that accuracy was lower across older participants and accuracy was significantly higher in blacks as compared to whites and Hispanics. Higher education was also significantly associated with greater accuracy.

Older women, blacks, and Hispanics were less accurate than younger women, blacks, and Hispanics with respect to their self reports of hearing ability. The authors state that “our results demonstrate that demographic factors, such as gender, age, race/ethnicity, and education are associated with rates of accuracy and the direction of misclassification in subjective versus objective assessments of hearing impairment.”

For More Information, References, and Recommendations

Kamil RJ, Genther DJ, Lin FR. (2015) Factors Associated with the Accuracy of Subjective Assessments of Hearing Impairment. Ear & Hearing 36(1): 164–167.

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