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Validation of a tablet-based assessment of auditory sensitivity for researchers

Abstract

Quantifying hearing acuity is increasingly important across a wide range of research areas in the behavioral and neurosciences. Scientists have relied on either self-reported hearing status or the availability of diagnostic hearing assessment in past studies. There remains a need for a valid and reliable assessment of auditory sensitivity that can provide estimates of the magnitude of hearing loss, if present, without requirements for professional audiologists, facilities, and equipment that are needed to conduct a diagnostic hearing assessment. The goal of this experiment was to validate the NIH Toolbox® Hearing Threshold Test (HTT), a tablet-based hearing assessment available via iPad application that uses consumer-grade headphones, on a clinical sample of children and adults with varying degrees of hearing acuity. Electroacoustic analysis of the hearing assessment application and headphones demonstrated acoustic outputs within established conformity standards for hearing assessment. Twenty-seven children and 63 adults participated in a standard diagnostic hearing assessment and the experimental tablet-based assessment. The results showed that thresholds from the tablet-based assessment were highly correlated with thresholds from the clinical hearing assessment (r = .83–.93) for children and adults for all frequencies and across a range of levels of hearing acuity. The HTT also met clinical test–retest reliability standards (Cronbach’s α > .86). The tablet-based hearing assessment provides acceptable estimates of hearing levels for children and adults when diagnostic audiometric assessment capabilities are not available.

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Acknowledgements

Thanks to the ARMADA study team and developers of the NIH Toolbox applications. We also thank the participants of this study.

Author note

The authors have no financial relationships relevant to this article to disclose. This study is funded with Federal funds from National Institute on Aging (NIH Grant No. 1U2CAG057441) and the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (R01DC018330, P20GM109023).

Funding

This study is funded with Federal funds from National Institute on Aging (NIH Grant No. 1U2CAG057441) and the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (R01DC018330, P20GM109023).

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Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ryan McCreery.

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Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare that are relevant to the content of this article.

Ethics approval

The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board at Boys Town National Research Hospital (Protocol # 12-05 - XP).

Consent to participate

Informed consent/assent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study. For children under age 18 years, informed consent was obtained from legal guardians.

Additional information

Open practices statement: None of the experiments were preregistered. The deidentified data and materials for all experiments are available at https://osf.io/dtmv9/?view_only=90c3b1a1add7420d988087f276c517ed

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Wiseman, K., Slotkin, J., Spratford, M. et al. Validation of a tablet-based assessment of auditory sensitivity for researchers. Behav Res (2022). https://doi.org/10.3758/s13428-022-01933-1

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.3758/s13428-022-01933-1

Keywords

  • Hearing assessment
  • Tablet
  • iPad
  • NIH Toolbox
  • Adults
  • Children
  • Hearing loss