The Feasibility and Reliability of a Digits-in-Noise Test in the Clinical Follow-Up of Children with Mild to Profound Hearing Loss

Jantien Vroegop*, Marian Rodenburg-Vlot, André Goedegebure, Agnes Doorduin, Nienke Homans, Marc Van Der Schroeff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Objectives: Speech perception in noise is an important aspect of the rehabilitation of children with hearing loss. We aimed to evaluate the feasibility and reliability of the Dutch digits-in-noise (DIN) test in the clinical follow-up of children with hearing aids (HAs) and/or cochlear implants (CIs). A second aim of the study was to gain insight in the speech perception in noise performance of children with different degrees of hearing loss. Design: We retrospectively analyzed DIN test data of Dutch-speaking children with hearing loss (N = 188; 5 to 18 years old). A free-field version of the DIN-test was used. Children with open-set phoneme recognition in quiet of >70% at 65 dB SPL (best aided condition) were included. Ages ranged from 5 to 18 years old. All were experienced HA or CI users and had used their device(s) for at least 1 year before the measurement in the study. The DIN-test was performed in the framework of a clinical rehabilitation program. During testing, children wore their own devices with normal daily programs. Results: The average speech reception threshold (SRT) was -3.6 dB (SD 3.6) for the first list and significantly improved to -4.0 dB (SD 3.1) for the second list. HA users had a 4-dB better SRT compared with CI users. The larger the child's hearing loss, the worse the SRT is. However, 15% of the children who completed a first list of 24 trials were unable to complete a second list. Mean adaptive staircase trajectories across trials suggested that learning occurred throughout the first list, and that loss of sustained attention contributed to response variability during the second list. Conclusion: The DIN test can be used to assess speech perception in noise abilities for children with different degrees of hearing loss and using HAs or CIs. The children with hearing loss required a higher signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) than did normal-hearing children and the required SNR is larger as the hearing loss increases. However, the current measurement procedure should be optimized for use in standard pediatric audiological care, as 15% of the children were unable to conduct a second list after the first list to reach a more stable SNR.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)973-981
Number of pages9
JournalEar and Hearing
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

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