Adults who report difficulty hearing speech in noise: an exploration of experiences, impacts and coping strategies

Jermy Pang*, Elizabeth Francis Beach, Megan Gilliver, Ingrid Yeend

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    21 Citations (Scopus)


    Objective: Listening difficulties in noise are common, even in those with clinically normal hearing. There is a suggestion that subjective assessment of hearing difficulties may be more closely associated with listening effort and fatigue rather than objective measures of hearing and/or speech perception. The aim of this study was to better understand these perceptual deficits and experiences of this population. Design: An exploratory survey was distributed to participants with self-reported listening-in-noise difficulties. The primary aim of the survey was to gather information about challenging listening environments, its impact, and preferred rehabilitation strategies. Secondly, responses were compared to their performance on behavioural tasks. Study sample: Fifty adults aged 33–55 (22 females, with normal or near-normal hearing thresholds), completed the survey, and 45 of these performed behavioural tasks. Results: Background noise with conversational content was the most common source of hearing difficulties. Participants expended higher concentration and attention when communicating in noise, and correlations with previously published behavioural data was reported. Social impacts varied, few had sought treatment, and respondents preferred training over devices. Conclusions: Insights gained may provide clinicians and researchers with an understanding of the situations, impacts and non-auditory factors associated with listening-in-noise difficulties, and preferred rehabilitation for these clients.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)851-860
    Number of pages10
    JournalInternational Journal of Audiology
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


    • listening difficulties
    • hidden hearing loss
    • background noise
    • psychosocial impact
    • coping strategies


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