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

Yueh B, Collins MP, Souza PE, Heagerty PJ, Liu CF, Boyko EJ, Loovis CF, Fausti SA, Hedrick SC. Screening for Auditory Impairment-Which Hearing Assessment Test (SAI-WHAT): RCT design and baseline characteristics. Contemporary clinical trials. 2007 May 1; 28(3):303-15.

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BACKGROUND: 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. METHODS: 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. RESULTS: 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. IMPLICATIONS: 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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