Distribution Characteristics of Air-Bone Gaps: Evidence of Bias in Manual Audiometry

R.H. Margolis, R.H. Wilson, G.R. Popelka, Robert Eikelboom, De Wet Swanepoel, G.L. Saly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Copyright © 2015 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. Objectives: Five databases were mined to examine distributions of air-bone gaps obtained by automated and manual audiometry. Differences in distribution characteristics were examined for evidence of influences unrelated to the audibility of test signals. Design: The databases provided air-and bone-conduction thresholds that permitted examination of air-bone gap distributions that were free of ceiling and floor effects. Cases with conductive hearing loss were eliminated based on air-bone gaps, tympanometry, and otoscopy, when available. The analysis is based on 2,378,921 threshold determinations from 721,831 subjects from five databases. Results: Automated audiometry produced air-bone gaps that were normally distributed suggesting that air-and bone-conduction thresholds are normally distributed. Manual audiometry produced air-bone gaps that were not normally distributed and show evidence of biasing effects of assumptions of expected results. In one database, the form of the distributions showed evidence of inclusion of conductive hearing losses. Conclusions: Thresholds obtained by manual audiometry show tester bias effects from assumptions of the patient's hearing loss characteristics. Tester bias artificially reduces the variance of bone-conduction thresholds and the resulting air-bone gaps. Because the automated method is free of bias from assumptions of expected results, these distributions are hypothesized to reflect the true variability of air-and bone-conduction thresholds and the resulting air-bone gaps.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-188
JournalEar and Hearing
Volume37
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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