The impact of face masks on the communication of adults with hearing loss during COVID-19 in a clinical setting

Nienke C Homans*, Jantien L Vroegop

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

37 Citations (Web of Science)
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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: The aim of the study was to investigate the effect of surgical masks and face shields on speech intelligibility of adults with moderate to severe hearing loss.

DESIGN: This study measured speech tracking scores in quiet for life speech in three different conditions: without a mask, with a surgical mask and with a face shield. Acoustic effects of the masks and face shields on the speech signal were also investigated. Study sample: The study sample consists of 42 patients with moderate to severe hearing loss, 23 cochlear implant users and 19 hearing aid users.

RESULTS: A significant average difference in speech perception scores was found for the use of a surgical mask compared to the listening situation "without mask". The worse the speech understanding in quiet, the larger the impact of the surgical mask. For the worse performers even the face shield had a negative impact on speech perception. The sound distortion for the face shield compared to the surgical mask was greater.

CONCLUSION: This study shows that even for speech perception in quiet, surgical face masks, and face shields to a lesser extent, have a negative effect for patients with moderate to severe hearing loss.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-370
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Audiology
Volume61
Issue number5
Early online dateJul 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank Barbara van Oel and Debbie Smit for performing all tests and Geert Geleijnse for supporting the measurements of the acoustic effects of the surgical masks and face shields.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group on behalf of British Society of Audiology, International Society of Audiology, and Nordic Audiological Society.

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