Understanding Self-reported Hearing Disability in Adults With Normal Hearing

Aryn M. Kamerer, Sara E. Harris, Judy G. Kopun, Stephen T. Neely, Daniel M. Rasetshwane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Despite a diagnosis of normal hearing, many people experience hearing disability (HD) in their everyday lives. This study assessed the ability of a number of demographic and auditory variables to explain and predict self-reported HD in people regarded as audiologically healthy via audiometric thresholds. Design: One-hundred eleven adults (ages 19 to 74) with clinically normal hearing (i.e., audiometric thresholds ≤25 dB HL at all octave and interoctave frequencies between 0.25 and 8 kHz and bilaterally symmetric hearing) were asked to complete the 12-item version of the Speech, Spatial, and Qualities of Hearing Scale (SSQ12) as a measure of self-reported HD. Patient history and a number of standard and expanded measures of hearing were assessed in a multivariate regression analysis to predict SSQ12 score. Patient history included age, sex, history of noise exposure, and tinnitus. Hearing-related measures included audiometry at standard and extended high frequencies, word recognition, otoacoustic emissions, auditory brainstem response, the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, and FM detection threshold. Results: History of impulse noise exposure, speech-intelligibility index, and FM detection threshold accurately predicted SSQ12 and were able to account for 40% of the SSQ12 score. These three measures were also able to predict whether participants self-reported HD with a sensitivity of 89% and specificity of 86%. Conclusions: Although participant audiometric thresholds were within normal limits, higher thresholds, history of impulse noise exposure, and FM detection predicted self-reported HD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)773-784
Number of pages12
JournalEar and hearing
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 10 2022


  • Audiometry
  • Hidden hearing loss
  • Listening difficulties
  • Noise
  • Self-report

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Speech and Hearing


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