Otoacoustic emissions, pure-tone audiometry, and self-reported hearing

Bo Engdahl, Kristian Tambs, Howard J Hoffman
International Journal of Audiology 2013, 52 (2): 74-82

OBJECTIVE: The aim of the study was to describe the association between otoacoustic emissions (OAEs), pure-tone thresholds, and self-reported hearing disability.

DESIGN: A population-based cohort of 4202 adults was examined with air conduction pure-tone audiometry, transient OAE (TEOAE), and distortion product OAE (DPOAE). Participants completed 15 self-report items on hearing disability.

RESULTS: Correlation coefficients in the range of 0.3 to 0.5 were observed between OAE (TEOAE, and DPOAE) and self-reported hearing depending on age and sex. Pure-tone average hearing thresholds generally predicted self-reported hearing slightly better than did the OAE measures. Adding TEOAE and DPOAE as predictors in a multivariate model together with the scores from pure-tone audiometry did not predict self-reported hearing better than did pure-tone audiometry alone. The relationship between OAE and self-reported hearing was stronger in men than in women and became more manifest with age, a trend also stronger in men.

CONCLUSIONS: OAEs were shown to be a valid measure of self-reported hearing disability of the general population but added no additional information to what pure-tone hearing thresholds had already captured.

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