The whispered voice test has been recommended as a screening test for detecting hearing impairment among elderly persons suspected of having presbycusis (6,12-14).
The health care guidance note produced by the Ministry of Health, Aging and the Health and Care of Older People (Envelhecimento e saude da pessoa idosa) (15) recommends the whispered voice test as a screening instrument for testing auditory acuity among older people.
The whispered voice test has been used in senior health care centers and in the Unified Health System by geriatric health practitioners and a range of other health professinoals (16,17).
In Brazil, until now there is no standardization and validation of this technique, due to there are not studies in which sensitivity, specificity, inter-examiner reproducibility and positive and negative predictive values of the whispered voice test are stablish as a screening tool for detecting hearing loss among aged Brazilian population.
The present study therefore aims to determine the reproducibility and accuracy of the whispered voice test as a screening tool for detecting hearing loss among older people by employing different phrases and using pure-tone threshold audiometry as the reference test.
The data collection process involved the following steps: inspection of the external auditory canal; the whispered voice test; and pure-tone and vocal audiometry.
The whispered voice test was conducted by specialized professionals in a silent room with minimal internal and external noise and with the patient sitting in a chair in the presence only of the examiner.
The intrinsic quality of the whispered voice test was assessed by calculating sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values, using audiometry as a reference test.
Pure-tone audiometry was performed after the whispered voice test to determine bone-conduction and air-conduction thresholds.
Sensitivity, specificity, and negative and positive predictive values of the whispered voice test
Figure 1 shows the ROC curves produced using the sensitivity and specificity values from the whispered voice test for each stimulus.
The reproducibility of the whispered voice test varied according to the stimulus.