SUN-test (Speech Understanding in Noise): a method for hearing disability screening

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A. Paglialonga |
G. Tognola
F. Grandori


The SUN-test (Speech Understanding in Noise) is a speech-innoise test to screen adults and older adults for hearing disability. The SUN-test consists in a short list of intervocalic consonants (VCV, vowel-consonant-vowel) in noise that are presented in a three-alternatives forced choice (3AFC) paradigm by means of a touch-screen interface. Based on the number of stimuli correctly identified, the tested subject gets one of three possible test outcomes: no listening difficulties, a hearing check would be advisable, or a hearing check is recommended. This paper reviews the main results obtained with the SUNtest in the Italian language in a population of nearly 1,300 adults and older adults with varying degrees of audiometric thresholds and audiometric configurations, tested both in low and in high ambient noise settings. Results obtained in the tested population revealed that the outcomes of the SUN-test were in line with the outcomes of pure-tone testing, and that the test performance was similar both in low and in high ambient noise (up to 65 dB A). Results obtained with the SUNtest were not biased by the age of the subject because the performance of younger and older subjects in the test was similar. The mean duration of the SUN-test was nearly 40 s/ear, and was lower than 1 minute per ear even in subjects older than 80 years so that both ears could be tested, on average, in 2 minutes. The SUN-test was considered easy or slightly difficult by nearly 90% of subjects; test duration was judged short or fair by nearly 95% of subjects, and the overall evaluation of the test was pleasant, or neutral, in more than 90% of subjects. Overall, results of this study indicated that the SUN-test might be feasible for application in adult hearing screening. The test is fast, easy, self convincing, and reflects differences in hearing sensitivity between the tested subjects. The outcomes of the SUN-test were not influenced by the noise level in the test room (up to 65 dB A) indicating that the test, as such, might be feasible to screen adults and older adults both in clinical and in non clinical settings, such as convenient care clinics, hearing aid providers, or pharmacies, where the ambient noise is, typically, not controlled.

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