Mitigation of Effect Modification by Psychological Status in Patients with Hearing Loss

Minjee Kim, Elizabeth G. Willard, C. Eduardo Corrales, Anthony A. Prince, Allen S. Zhou, Bernard Rosner, Maria Edelen, Jennifer J. Shin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Importance: Although patient-reported outcomes provide valuable insights, these subjective data may not align with objective test results. Hearing loss is a pervasive problem, such that concordance between subjective perceptions of hearing ability and objective audiogram assessments would be beneficial. Objectives: To determine (1) whether psychological status is an effect modifier of the association between subjective patient reports of hearing ability and objective audiometry results, and (2) whether any effect modification observed in standard static questionnaires would be either mitigated or exacerbated by adaptive testing based on Item Response Theory analyses. Design, Setting, and Participants: This diagnostic study at a tertiary care center and community-based practice included consecutive adults who presented with queries related to hearing loss. Participants were recruited and enrolled and data analyses occurred from 2022 to 2024. Exposures: Participants prospectively reported their hearing-specific abilities through either a standard static or adaptive version of the Inner Effectiveness of Auditory Rehabilitation (EAR) scale, alongside validated measures of their mental health and audiometry. Word recognition scores (WRS) and pure tone averages (PTA) were used to analyze audiometric testing. Main Outcomes and Measures: The association between subjective Inner EAR results and audiometry was evaluated. Stratified analyses were used to assess for effect modification by psychological status. The results of standard static and adaptive testing were compared. Results: In this study of 395 patients (mean [range] age, 55.9 [18-89] years; 210 [53.2%] female), standard static Inner EAR mean scores were appropriately higher in patients with higher (better) WRS (50.7, 95% CI, 46.4-54.9), compared with patients with lower (worse) WRS (34.7, 95% CI, 24.3-45.1). However, among patients with worse mental health, there was no association between standard static Inner EAR scores and WRS. In contrast, adaptive Inner EAR mean scores were significantly higher for those with better WRS, regardless of mental health status. Thus, effect modification was observed in standard static assessments, whereas adaptive testing remained durably associated with audiometry, regardless of mental health. Conclusions and Relevance: Psychological status was an effect modifier of the association between standard Inner EAR scale scores and audiometry, with a positive association observed only in those with better mental health. Adaptive testing scores, however, remained significantly associated with audiometry, even when mental status was worse. Adaptive testing may stabilize the association between subjective and objective hearing outcomes..

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJAMA Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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