Adjusting expectations: Hearing abilities in a population-based sample using an SSQ short form
Self-reports of hearing (dis)abilities play an important role in hearing rehabilitation. Among the large variety of questionnaires, the Speech, Spatial, and Qualities of Hearing Scale (SSQ) has become an internationally used measure to assess hearing abilities in specified everyday listening situations using a visualized scale ranging from 0 to 10. Research mainly focused on adults with impaired hearing, whereas adults with “normal” hearing were hardly considered. However, the ratings of adults out of the general population could be of particular interest when it comes to the question of score benchmarks based on different definitions of “normal” hearing. In the cross-sectional, population-based study HÖRSTAT (n=1903) the German SSQ17 short form was used along with a standardized interview and comprehensive hearing examinations. As the SSQ score distributions are extremely negatively skewed, semiparametric quantile and expectile regression analysis was performed to examine the conditional score distribution and the effects of age, gender, globally reported hearing problems, hearing loss, and social status. Though no normative cut-off values can be established from empirical findings only, the distribution of “normal” hearing abilities might align the management of expectations during the process of hearing rehabilitation.
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