Abstract

The aim of this study was to test the efficacy of Verbal Tasks and Motor Responses (VTMR) speech audiometry in providing a rapid and true-to-life assessment of hearing-related problems as a single test in adult hearing screening programmes. The VTMR consists in manual execution of 5 verbal commands received by patients at different signal intensity levels and fixed masking noise; it provides a score of speech comprehension in noise. This was a prospective observational study in 916 individuals out of 1,300 volunteers (605 males, 695 females, aged 56 ± 17 years) who completed adult hearing screening. VTMR speech audiometry was performed at signal to noise (S/N) ratios of 0 dB and –10 dB. The difference between normal and hearing impaired subjects in terms of all the considered variables was statistically significant for pure-tone audiometry and VTMR testing. VTMR testing at a S/N ratio of –10 dB with a cut-off of four correctly executed tasks and was a rapid, feasible and efficient means of differentiating between normal and hearing impaired subjects. When used to screen hearing impaired subjects with participation restrictions, the sensitivity and specificity of the VTMR test rose to 90% and 62%, respectively. The VTMR test in noise could be used as a stand-alone tool when screening for impairment and self-perceived participation restriction together.