Deriving criteria for hearing impairment in the elderly: a functional approach.

M. J. Lichtenstein, F. H. Bess, S. A. Logan, M. C. Burger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


We describe a method for deriving criteria for hearing impairment in the elderly based on self-reported handicap. Using the Sickness Impact Profile (SIP) and Hearing Handicap Inventory for the Elderly - Screening (HHIE-S) version as functional measures of handicap, the analysis proceeded in five steps: 1. Audiometric thresholds at various frequencies were inter-correlated. This was done both within and between ears. 2. Better and poorer ear thresholds were determined for each frequency, and these were correlated with the HHIE-S and SIP scores. 3. Using the HHIE-S and SIP scores as dependent variables, stepwise multiple linear regressions were used to select the frequencies that explained the most variance in the functional scales. 4. Using the HHIE-S and SIP as standards, receiver operating curves were constructed for each frequency to select the threshold level that provided the best test accuracy. 5. The newly-derived criteria were then compared against four other "traditional" criteria of hearing impairment. In general, the newly-derived criteria combined a relatively low frequency with a relatively high frequency, with the low frequency being functionally more important. Depending on the functional scale used, the threshold level was in the 25 to 35-dB range for the lower frequencies and 40 to 45-dB for the higher frequencies. These features provide a suitable compromise to the current debate over which threshold levels comprise the best discrimination of aged persons who are hearing-impaired. Future research should focus on developing consensus standards for functional hearing impairment and handicap in the elderly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-22
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Audiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Speech and Hearing


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