Our Editors’ Choice for this edition reviews an article looking at the use of a smartphone app for hearing screening. We have all had to integrate telehealth into our practice to some extent recently and this paper examines a teleaudiology tool to implement hearing screening for both adults and children. We know too, that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted inequalities that exist globally, and access to hearing screening varies across the world, with screening services existing for children and sometimes for adults in many high-income countries but much less so in low and middle-income countries. This article demonstrates an option that might be a viable and valid self-test tool in countries that currently do not have a screening programme. Thank you to all our reviewers for their contributions.
Nazia Munir and Hannah Cooper
This study aimed to investigate validity and diagnostic accuracy of the hearTest that is an audiometry tool administrated via smart devices. Three hundred adults and 40 children from Brazil took part in this study. Screening tests were administrated using the Samsung Galaxy A3 Android smartphone and the tones were played using Sennheiser HD280 circum-aural headphones. The screening test was completed using two modes: self-test mode where participants recorded their results; and test-operator mode where a tester recorded the hearing thresholds. The obtained results were compared to the pure tone audiometry results performed by a clinician using a clinical audiometer. The validity of the test was investigated using two criteria respectively: average PTA over 25dBHL and average PTA over 40dBHL for adults or 30dBHL for children. The accuracy of the screening test for both modes was good, and higher for the self-test mode. Both sensitivity and specificity were over 90% for the self-test mode, but specificity in the test-operator mode did not reach the 80% criterion. In general, the study results indicate that the smartphone-based screening tool may be a good alternative in places where there are not enough members of staff to perform a hearing test. Although the accuracy of the test was high for children, the authors indicated that more research is needed as the sample was not large enough. It would also be interesting to see what the accuracy of the test would be while using earphones specific to the smart device model.