OBJECTIVE: COVID-19 has been prohibitive to traditional audiological services. No- or low-touch audiological assessment outside a sound-booth precludes test batteries including bone conduction audiometry.
This study investigated whether conductive hearing loss (CHL) can be differentiated from sensorineural
hearing loss (SNHL) using pure-tone air conduction audiometry and a digits-in-noise (DIN) test.
DESIGN: A retrospective sample was analysed using binomial logistic regressions, which determined the
effects of pure tone thresholds or averages, speech recognition threshold (SRT), and age on the likelihood
that participants had CHL or bilateral SNHL.
STUDY SAMPLE: Data of 158 adults with bilateral SNHL (n ¼ 122; PTA0.5–4 kHz > 25 dB HL bilaterally) or CHL
(n ¼ 36; air conduction PTA0.5–4 kHz > 25 dB HL and 20 dB air bone gap in the affected ears)
RESULTS: The model which best discriminated between CHL and bilateral SNHL used low-frequency puretone average (PTA), diotic DIN SRT, and age with an area under the ROC curve of 0.98 and sensitivity and
specificity of 97.2 and 93.4%, respectively.
CONCLUSION: CHL can be accurately distinguished from SNHL using pure-tone air conduction audiometry
and a diotic DIN. Restrictions on traditional audiological assessment due to COVID-19 require lower touch
audiological care which reduces infection risk.