Screening of hearing in elderly people: assessment of accuracy and reproducibility of the whispered voice test

<p></p><p>Abstract Given the high prevalence of presbycusis and its detrimental effect on quality of life, screening tests can be useful tools for detecting hearing loss in primary care settings. This study therefore aimed to determine the accuracy and reproducibility of the whispered voice test as a screening method for detecting hearing impairment in older people. This cross-sectional study was carried out with 210 older adults aged between 60 and 97 years who underwent the whispered voice test employing ten different phrases and using audiometry as a reference test. Sensitivity, specificity and positive and negative predictive values were calculated and accuracy was measured by calculating the area under the ROC curve. The test was repeated on 20% of the ears by a second examiner to assess inter-examiner reproducibility (IER). The words and phrases that showed the highest area under the curve (AUC) and IER values were: “shoe” (AUC = 0.918; IER = 0.877), “window” (AUC = 0.917; IER = 0.869), “it looks like it's going to rain” (AUC = 0.911; IER = 0.810), and “the bus is late” (AUC = 0.900; IER = 0.810), demonstrating that the whispered voice test is a useful screening tool for detecting hearing loss among older people. It is proposed that these words and phrases should be incorporated into the whispered voice test protocol.</p><p></p>