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Int J Audiol. 2004 Feb;43(2):100-14.

Interaural asymmetry of hearing loss, Speech, Spatial and Qualities of Hearing Scale (SSQ) disabilities, and handicap.

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Department of Psychology, University of New England, Armidale, NSW, Australia,


A series of comparative analyses is presented between a group with relatively similar degrees of hearing loss in each ear (n = 103: symmetry group) and one with dissimilar losses (n = 50: asymmetry group). Asymmetry was defined as an interaural difference of more than 10dB in hearing levels averaged over 0.5. 1, 2 and 4kHz. Comparison was focused on self-rated disabilities as reflected in responses on the Speech, Spatial and Qualities of Hearing Scale (SSQ). The connections between SSQ ratings and a global self-rating of handicap were also observed. The interrelationships among SSQ items for the two groups were analysed to determine how the SSQ behaves when applied to groups in whom binaural hearing is more (asymmetry) versus less compromised. As expected, spatial hearing is severely disabled in the group with asymmetry; this group is generally more disabled than the symmetry group across all SSQ domains. In the linkages with handicap, spatial hearing, especially in dynamic settings, was strongly represented in the asymmetry group, while all aspects of hearing were moderately to strongly represented in the symmetry group. Item intercorrelations showed that speech hearing is a relatively autonomous function for the symmetry group, whereas it is enmeshed with segregation, clarity and naturalness factors for the asymmetry group. Spatial functions were more independent of others in the asymmetry group. The SSQ shows promise in the assessment of outcomes in the case of bilateral versus unilateral amplification and/or implantation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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