The Intelligibility of the Reversed-Stethoscope Technique in Age-Related Hearing Loss
Keywords:hearing loss, health-care accessibility, stethoscope
This study evaluated the effectiveness of the reverse stethoscope technique in improving speech intelligibility. In this technique, a clinician places the earpieces of their stethoscope into the ears of a hearing-impaired patient and speaks into the chest piece.
The International Speech Test Signal was presented to four Littman® stethoscope models and a Pocketalker® personal voice amplifier using an Audioscan® hearing instrument test box. The acoustic outputs of the stethoscopes and voice amplifier were measured across the frequency spectrum of speech. The Speech Intelligibility Index of the resulting speech was calculated for natural speech and for each device in relation to 10 standardized hearing losses representing the population of older adults.
For each of the 10 hearing losses, the speech signal emitted by the stethoscopes was quieter and yielded lower speech intelligibility scores than regular speech. In contrast, the voice amplifier provided mid and high frequency amplification and improved speech intelligibility scores for all but the mildest hearing losses.
The reverse stethoscope technique worsens the clarity of speech and should not be used with older, hearing-impaired patients. Instead, clinicians should use regular speech or, preferably, personal voice amplifiers.
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