Normalisation, Evaluation and Verification of the New Zealand Hearing Screening Test.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Audiology
Presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss, is one of the most common chronic conditions to affect adults. On average individuals wait seven years from the time they notice a hearing impairment to the time they seek help from a hearing professional. This delay may have wide reaching implications for public health in the coming decades, as aging populations become more prevalent and as further research assesses the relationship between hearing loss and mental health conditions such as depression and dementia. The development of the New Zealand Hearing Screening Test (NZHST) aims to fulfil a need for a robust hearing screening test that individuals can access from home. This digit triplet test (DTT) will be particularly valuable for those in rural areas where audiological services are sparse and for those who have mobility issues which restrict attendance at clinical appointments. In order to accommodate as many New Zealanders as possible, the NZHST will have two versions, an internet version and a land-line telephone version; both of which can be delivered into their home in either New Zealand English or Te Reo Māori. This research is the third instalment in the development of the NZHST. The current research is divided into three parts; the verification of the New Zealand English DTT for the internet version, the pilot study for the Te Reo Māori DTT for the internet version, and the normalisation of the New Zealand English DTT for the telephone version. In the verification process, 50 individuals with various audiometric thresholds listened to 3 lists of 27 New Zealand English digit triplets, presented in three conditions; binaurally and to each ear separately via an internet interface. In the pilot study, 27 participants with various audiometric thresholds listened to 3 lists of 27 Te Reo Māori digit triplets via a software interface on a laptop computer. The normalisation process involved 10 individuals with normal hearing (average air-conduction pure tone thresholds of ≤ 20 dB HL) listening to 168 New Zealand English digit triplets under two different noise conditions; one as continuous speech noise and the other a noise with spectral and temporal gaps (STG noise) presented via a software interface on a laptop computer. Four conditions of the 168 digits were presented; once to each ear for the continuous noise, and once to each ear for the STG noise. Significant correlations were found between the binaural DTT and PTA (R = 0.66), and between the monaural ear DTT and PTA (R = 0.73) for the verification. The binaural DTT had a test sensitivity of 94% and a specificity of 88%. Pilot study correlation between binaural DTT and PTA was R = 0.61, and was R = 0.63 between monaural DTT and PTA; while the binaural sensitivity (100%) and specificity (100%) of the Te Reo DTT was affected by the very small number of participants with hearing loss (n = 4). The normalisation revealed that detection of the digit triplets was easier when STG noise (Lmid = -11.5 dB SNR, SD = 1.6 dB) was used as a masker, rather than continuous noise (Lmid = -8.9 dB SNR, SD = 1.4 dB).