P17 Influence of three auditory profiles on aided speech perception in different noise scenarios
Hearing aid (HA) users differ greatly in their speech-in-noise (SIN) outcomes. This could be because the degree to which current HA fittings can address individual listening needs differs across users and listening situations. In two earlier studies, an auditory test battery and a data-driven method were developed for classifying HA candidates into four distinct auditory profiles differing in audiometric hearing loss and suprathreshold hearing abilities. This study explored aided SIN outcome for three of these profiles in different noise scenarios. Thirty-one older habitual HA users and six young normal-hearing listeners participated. Two SIN tasks were administered: a speech recognition task and a “just follow conversation” task requiring the participants to self-adjust the target-speech level. Three noise conditions were tested: stationary speech-shaped noise, speech-shaped babble noise, and speech-shaped babble noise with competing dialogues. Each HA user was fitted with three HAs from different manufacturers using their recommended procedures. Real-ear measurements were performed to document the final gain settings. The results showed that HA users with mild hearing deficits performed better than HA users with pronounced hearing deficits on the speech recognition task but not the just follow conversation task. Moreover, participants with pronounced hearing deficits obtained different SIN outcomes with the tested HAs, which appeared to be related to differences in HA gain. Overall, these findings imply that current proprietary fitting strategies are limited in their ability to ensure good SIN outcomes, especially for users with pronounced hearing deficits, for whom the choice of device seems most consequential.