Sensitivity and specificity of pure-tone and subjective hearing screenings using Spanish-language questions

Alyssa Everett, Aileen Wong, Rosie Piper, Barbara Cone, Nicole Marrone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to determine the sensitivities and specificities of different audiometric hearing screening criteria and single-item and multi-item hearing disability questionnaires among a group of Spanish-speaking adults in a rural community. Method: Participants were 131 predominantly older (77% 65+ years) Hispanic/Latinx adults (98%). A structured Spanish-language interview and pure-tone threshold test data were analyzed for each participant. The sensitivities and specificities of three single questions and the Hearing Handicap Index for the Elderly–Screening (HHIE-S; Ventry & Weinstein, 1983) in Spanish, as well as three audiometric screening criteria, were evaluated in relation to the pure-tone threshold test for detecting hearing loss. Results: Sensitivity and specificity of audiometric screening criteria varied, but the highest sensitivity was found for the criterion of > 25 dB HL at 1–4 kHz in either ear. The single self-perception question, “¿Creeustedquetiene pérdida de audición? (Do you think you have a hearing loss?),” was shown to be the most sensitive self-report screening compared to other single-item questions and the HHIE-S. This single question was as sensitive as an audiometric screening to detect a moderate hearingloss(>40dBHLineitherear).Resultsfrom the Spanish HHIE-S indicated poor performance to detect hearing loss in this population, consistent with previous research. Conclusions: Among older Spanish-speaking adults, self-reported hearing status had varying sensitivities depending on the question asked. However, of the tools evaluated, the self-perception question proved to be a more sensitive and specific tool than a multi-item screen. Objective audiometric testing (> 25 dB HL) resulted in the highest sensitivity to detect a mild hearing loss.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-49
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican journal of audiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Speech and Hearing


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