Intercontinental hearing assessment - a study in tele-audiology

J Telemed Telecare. 2010;16(5):248-52. doi: 10.1258/jtt.2010.090906. Epub 2010 May 10.


We evaluated the validity of remote pure tone audiometric testing conducted from North America on subjects in South Africa. Desktop-sharing computer software was used to control an audiometer in Pretoria from Dallas, and PC-based videoconferencing was employed for clinician and subject communication. Thirty adult subjects were assessed, and the pure tone audiometric thresholds (125-8000 Hz) obtained through conventional face-to-face and remote testing were compared. Face-to-face and remote audiometry thresholds differed by 10 dB in only 4% of cases overall. The limits of agreement between the two techniques were -8 and 7 dB with a 90% confidence interval of -5 to 5 dB. The average reaction times to stimulus presentations were similar, within -108 and 121 ms. The average test duration was 21% longer for remote testing (10.4 vs. 8.2 min). There were no clinically significant differences between the results obtained by remote intercontinental audiometric testing and conventional face-to-face audiometry. It may therefore be possible to expand the reach of audiological services into remote underserved regions of the world.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Audiology / instrumentation
  • Audiometry, Pure-Tone / instrumentation*
  • Auditory Threshold / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Software
  • South Africa
  • Telemedicine / methods*
  • Texas
  • Young Adult