Are smartphone applications (App) useful to improve hearing?
The objective of the study is to assess whether a smartphone application (App) designed to improve hearing can improve audiological performance in patients with normal hearing and with varying grades of hearing loss (HL). This is a multicentre prospective analytical study. We performed a battery of audiological tests consisting of pure tone audiometry (PTA) and a word recognition test (WRT) in quiet and in noise at different signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) using or not a smartphone App. Intra-subject results under both conditions were compared to determine the App’s effect on hearing. A survey was also carried out to obtain data on subjective hearing experience with the App. We recruited 55 HL patients and 13 normalhearing controls between June to December 2017. The results show that use of the App in HL patients improved WRT scores by a mean of 30.3% in quiet, 24.3% in noise + 10 dB SNR, and 20.8% in + 5 dB SNR. App use was identified as a factor that increased word recognition (odds ratio = 1.812, p < 0.05) and 61% of subjects rated sound quality when using the App as good or excellent. The use of a smartphone hearing App improved scores in both PTA and WRT in most cases. Patients with binaural hearing impairment < 60% obtained the best results. Subjective user satisfaction was good in both conditions.