Introduction: Hearing loss (HL) affects people worldwide, many of whom are children. Especially in developing countries, epidemiological data on the prevalence of HL are insufficient to implement effective health promotion programs. In this preliminary study with young adults, we describe and validate a tablet-based hearing screening test developed for interactive remote hearing screening and compare the performance of an audiometry screening tablet application with conventional audiometry. In addition, the sensitivity, specificity, and predictive values of the tablet-based method and the concordance between the two methods were analyzed.
Methods: Thirty volunteers participated in a double-blind study assessing two auditory threshold screening methods: tablet-based hearing screening and sweep audiometry. For both methods, a correct response to a minimum of two tones out of three emitted at 20 dBHL for the frequencies of 1, 2, and 4 kHz and 30 dBHL for 0.5 kHz in both ears, was considered a negative screening result (normal hearing), whereas hearing impairment was considered a positive screening result.
Results: According to both methods, 26 participants had normal hearing and four had HL. The Kappa coefficient indicated perfect concordance between methods. The tablet-based hearing screening method had a sensitivity of 100% (confidence interval [CI]: 30.5-100.0), a specificity of 100% (CI: 87.1-100.0), a positive predictive value of 100% (CI: 30.5-100.0), and a negative predictive value of 100% (CI: 87.1-100.0).
Conclusions: The tablet-based hearing screening test was shown to be a reliable and an accurate method for hearing screening that can be used effectively in places with Internet access and where local audiologists are not available.
Keywords: Internet; audiology; screening; telehealth; telemedicine.