Hearing screening for school children: comparison of low-cost, computer-based and conventional audiometry

Child Care Health Dev. 2010 May;36(3):323-31. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2214.2010.01079.x.


Background: There is a need to develop affordable but effective audiometric screening equipment, particularly for use in low-income countries. With advances in computer technology, low-cost computer-based audiometer software has been developed. However, the efficacy of computer-based audiometers in hearing screening and diagnostic assessment requires investigation. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the accuracy of a low-cost, computer-based audiometric system in a school-based hearing screening programme.

Methods: Eighty children were screened using the computer-based audiometer and with a conventional pure tone screening audiometer. Overall refer rates, as well as frequency and age effects on the accuracy of the computer-based audiometer, were considered.

Results: There was a significant relationship between the low-cost, computer-based audiometer and a conventional pure tone audiometer when a 40 dBHL refer criterion was used in school hearing screening and when test results at 500 Hz were excluded from analysis. However, background noise effects and software limitations in the computer-based system had major adverse effects on screening performance.

Conclusions: The study results and preliminary practical experience with the system suggest that, with further software and hardware improvements, a low-cost, computer-based system may well be feasible for routine school screening in developing countries.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Audiometry, Pure-Tone / economics
  • Audiometry, Pure-Tone / instrumentation
  • Child
  • Diagnosis, Computer-Assisted / economics*
  • Diagnosis, Computer-Assisted / instrumentation
  • Female
  • Hearing Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Hearing Tests / economics*
  • Hearing Tests / instrumentation
  • Hearing Tests / methods
  • Hong Kong
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / instrumentation
  • Mass Screening / methods