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PLoS One. 2017 Aug 8;12(8):e0182718. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0182718. eCollection 2017.

Discrepancy between self-assessed hearing status and measured audiometric evaluation.

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Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, CHA Bundang Medical Center, CHA University, Seongnam, Korea.
Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital, Anyang, Korea.
Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, Korea University Ansan Hospital, Ansan, Korea.
Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, Hallym University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.



The purpose of this study was to examine the difference between self-reported hearing status and hearing impairment assessed using conventional audiometry. The associated factors were examined when a concordance between self-reported hearing and audiometric measures was lacking.


In total, 19,642 individuals ≥20 years of age who participated in the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys conducted from 2009 through 2012 were enrolled. Pure-tone hearing threshold audiometry (PTA) was measured and classified into three levels: <25 dB (normal hearing); ≥25 dB <40 dB (mild hearing impairment); and ≥40 dB (moderate-to-severe hearing impairment). The self-reported hearing loss was categorized into 3 categories. The participants were categorized into three groups: the concordance (matched between self-reported hearing loss and audiometric PTA), overestimation (higher self-reported hearing loss compared to audiometric PTA), and underestimation groups (lower self-reported hearing loss compared to audiometric PTA). The associations of age, sex, education level, stress level, anxiety/depression, tympanic membrane (TM) status, hearing aid use, and tinnitus with the discrepancy between the hearing self-reported hearing loss and audiometric pure tone threshold results were analyzed using multinomial logistic regression analysis with complex sampling.


Overall, 80.1%, 7.1%, and 12.8% of the participants were assigned to the concordance, overestimation, and underestimation groups, respectively. Older age (adjusted odds ratios [AORs] = 1.28 [95% confidence interval = 1.19-1.37] and 2.80 [2.62-2.99] for the overestimation and the underestimation groups, respectively), abnormal TM (2.17 [1.46-3.23] and 1.59 [1.17-2.15]), and tinnitus (2.44 [2.10-2.83] and 1.61 [1.38-1.87]) were positively correlated with both the overestimation and underestimation groups. Compared with specialized workers, service workers, manual workers, and the unemployed were more likely to be in the overestimation group (1.48 [1.11-1.98], 1.39 [1.04-1.86], and 1.50 [1.18-1.90], respectively), and service workers were more likely to be in the underestimation group (AOR = 1.42 [1.01-1.99]). Higher education level (0.77 [0.59-1.01] and 0.43 [0.33-0.57]) and hearing aid use (0.36 [0.17-0.77] and 0.23 [0.13-0.43]) were negatively associated with being in the underestimation group (0.43 [0.37-0.50]). Compared with males, females were less likely to be assigned to the underestimation group (0.43 [0.37-0.50]). Stress (1.98 [1.32-2.98]) and anxiety/depression (1.30 [1.06-1.59]) were associated with overestimation group.


Older age, lower education level, occupation, abnormal TM, non-hearing aid use, and tinnitus were related to both overestimation and underestimation groups. Male gender was related to underestimation, and stress and anxiety/depression were correlated with overestimation group. An understanding of these factors associated with the self-reported hearing loss will be instrumental to identifying and managing hearing-impaired individuals.

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