Interpretability of the audiogram by audiologists and physician non-specialists

Niall A.M. Klyn*, Claire Letendre, Neeha Shrestha, Bruce L. Lambert, Sumitrajit Dhar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective: The audiogram is frequently used by hearing specialists communicate test results to non-specialists, such as physicians. However, it relies on uncommon terminology and interpreting unusual graphical elements to extract information. In this study, we examine whether the audiogram can be accurately interpreted by specialists and non-specialists. Design: We used an online questionnaire to assess the interpretability of an audiogram by audiologists and primary-care physicians. Participants viewed a sample audiogram and submitted their answers via an online survey system. Study sample: We recruited actively practicing primary care physicians (n = 100) and actively practicing audiologists (n = 67). We only accepted respondents from the United States. Results: The audiogram was not easily interpreted by physicians, with a median score of 4/9. Fewer than 25% could accurately report a threshold correctly. Audiologists were more accurate than physicians (median score 7/9, Wilcoxon two-sample p < 0.001, r = 0.648). Conclusions: The audiogram is difficult for non-specialists to interpret. Clinicians are advised to supplement or supplant the audiogram in interprofessional communication. The development of tools to facilitate interprofessional communication between audiologists and physicians could have positive effects on physician awareness of hearing loss, and even downstream influences on patient behaviour and outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-139
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Audiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021


  • Audiogram
  • counseling
  • graphical literacy
  • health literacy
  • interprofessional communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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