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Contemp Clin Trials. 2007 May;28(3):303-15. Epub 2006 Aug 30.

Screening for Auditory Impairment-Which Hearing Assessment Test (SAI-WHAT): RCT design and baseline characteristics.

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  • 1Health Services Research and Development Service, VA Puget Sound Health Care System, 1660 S. Columbian Way, Seattle, WA 98108, USA.



Effective screening programs should not merely detect presence of disease, but also lead to long-term benefit. We describe the rationale and design of the first randomized clinical trial to study the long-term effects of routine screening for hearing loss. We also describe the baseline characteristics of the randomized cohort.


We randomized 2305 veterans age 50 years or older to a control arm without screening, or to screening with: physiologic testing (AudioScope), a self-administered questionnaire (Hearing Handicap Inventory for the Elderly-Screening version [HHIE-S]), or both tests. The primary outcome measure will be hearing aid use one year after screening. We will also study a number of secondary outcomes, including appointments made with and visits to an audiologist, cases of aidable hearing loss, hearing aids dispensed, self-rated communication ability, and hearing-related quality of life.


Baseline demographic and health status measures were evenly distributed across the screening arms. The percentage of patients who screened positive for hearing loss was 18.6%, 59.2%, and 63.6% for the AudioScope, HHIE-S, and combined screening arms, respectively.


Long-term results are needed to gain insight into whether the AudioScope is associated with high rates of false negative screening, the HHIE-S is associated with high rates of false positive screening, or a combination of both. Identifying the best screening program will depend on determining which strategy leads to successful hearing aid use.

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