Hearing impairment, cognition and speech understanding: exploratory factor analyses of a comprehensive test battery for a group of hearing aid users

Rönnberg , J. et al. International Journal of Audiology. Published online: 02 Sep 2016

Objective: The aims of the current n200 study were to assess the structural relations between three classes of test variables (i.e. HEARING, COGNITION and aided speech-in-noise OUTCOMES) and to describe the theoretical implications of these relations for the Ease of Language Understanding (ELU) model.

Study sample: Participants were 200 hard-of-hearing hearing-aid users, with a mean age of 60.8 years. Forty-three percent were females and the mean hearing threshold in the better ear was 37.4 dB HL.

Design: LEVEL1 factor analyses extracted one factor per test and/or cognitive function based on a priori conceptualizations. The more abstract LEVEL 2 factor analyses were performed separately for the three classes of test variables.

Results: The HEARING test variables resulted in two LEVEL 2 factors, which we labelled SENSITIVITY and TEMPORAL FINE STRUCTURE; the COGNITIVE variables in one COGNITION factor only, and OUTCOMES in two factors, NO CONTEXT and CONTEXT. COGNITION predicted the NO CONTEXT factor to a stronger extent than the CONTEXT outcome factor. TEMPORAL FINE STRUCTURE and SENSITIVITY were associated with COGNITION and all three contributed significantly and independently to especially the NO CONTEXT outcome scores (R2 = 0.40).

Conclusions: All LEVEL 2 factors are important theoretically as well as for clinical assessment.

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