Using Speech Recall in Hearing Aid Fitting and Outcome Evaluation Under Ecological Test Conditions

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Abstract

In adaptive Speech Reception Threshold (SRT) tests used in the audiological clinic, speech is presented at signal to noise ratios (SNRs) that are lower than those generally encountered in real-life communication situations. At higher, ecologically valid SNRs, however, SRTs are insensitive to changes in hearing aid signal processing that may be of benefit to listeners who are hard of hearing. Previous studies conducted in Swedish using the Sentence-final Word Identification and Recall test (SWIR) have indicated that at such SNRs, the ability to recall spoken words may be a more informative measure. In the present study, a Danish version of SWIR, known as the Sentence-final Word Identification and Recall Test in a New Language (SWIRL) was introduced and evaluated in two experiments. The objective of experiment 1 was to determine if the Swedish results demonstrating benefit from noise reduction signal processing for hearing aid wearers could be replicated in 25 Danish participants with mild to moderate symmetrical sensorineural hearing loss. The objective of experiment 2 was to compare direct-drive and skin-drive transmission in 16 Danish users of bone-anchored hearing aids with conductive hearing loss or mixed sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. In experiment 1, performance on SWIRL improved when hearing aid noise reduction was used, replicating the Swedish results and generalizing them across languages. In experiment 2, performance on SWIRL was better for direct-drive compared with skin-drive transmission conditions. These findings indicate that spoken word recall can be used to identify benefits from hearing aid signal processing at ecologically valid, positive SNRs where SRTs are insensitive.

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