New hearing test to establish fitness-for-duty among military personnel

July 18, 2017, University of Southampton

Researchers at the University of Southampton have devised a new hearing test for military personnel that they hope will better assess whether soldiers have sufficient hearing ability to be safe and effective in a combat situation.

The current measure of 'auditory fitness-for-duty' used in British military medical examinations is 'pure-tone audiometry', which assesses the ability to hear individual tones of different frequencies in quiet surroundings. It does not take into account the communication and the noisy environments that infantry personnel encounter on a daily basis.

Dr Daniel Rowan, who led the team that devised the , said: "How good a 's hearing is can mean the difference between life and death. The problem with the pure-tone audiometry test is that it doesn't relate to the listening challenges that soldiers face in the line of duty.

"Pure-tone audiometry comprises hearing short beeps in quiet environments. This is not a true reflection of military life.

"Our new test takes into account what soldiers need to be able to hear and react to, and is based on input from them on the typical scenarios that they actually experience."

The new test—a speech-in-noise test—involves participants listening to military-style language over background noise at varying balances.

The structure of sentences, for example "Ready bravo," "go to green" and "eight now," was chosen after soldiers previously completed surveys to identify battlefield sounds and commands based on their importance, regularity and the number of soldiers who hear them in the line of duty.

The new test was developed and assessed in a study, funded by the MoD Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, and published in the International Journal of Audiology. It has since been implemented into a tablet app to make it easier and more cost-effective to deliver.

The test has been shown to accurately measure an individual's ability to recognise speech within . The Royal Centre for Defence Medicine has funded a follow-up study to investigate whether the test can accurately predict soldiers' auditory fitness-for-duty.

Lt Col Linda Orr, Military Lead for hearWELL Collaboration and Consultant ENT, said: "We are delighted that this work done at the University of Southampton and supported by the Defence Medical Services as part of the hearWELL Collaboration is moving forward knowledge in this critically important area and we look forward to further translational outcomes in the future."

Explore further: Soldiers cite 'Medic!' as a top hearing priority

More information: Hannah D. Semeraro et al. Development and evaluation of the British English coordinate response measure speech-in-noise test as an occupational hearing assessment tool, International Journal of Audiology (2017). DOI: 10.1080/14992027.2017.1317370

Related Stories

Soldiers cite 'Medic!' as a top hearing priority

April 1, 2015
'Medic!', 'Hold fire!' and grid references are amongst the highest priorities for soldiers to be able to hear while on duty, according to new research from the University of Southampton.

Fit for the frontline? New study identifies the hearing requirements of British soldiers

July 9, 2014
University of Southampton researchers, with assistance from the Ministry of Defence, have conducted the first study to identify the hearing requirements of British soldiers fighting on the frontline.

Does your hearing do the job?

August 10, 2011
How well do you need to hear in order to do your job, and how should your hearing be measured?

Modern life is damaging our ears – probably more than we realise

April 10, 2017
Noise exposure is the main cause of preventable hearing loss worldwide. It now accounts for more than a third of all cases of hearing loss in developed countries – and city dwellers are most at risk. A study published recently ...

Ability to process speech declines with age

October 5, 2016
Researchers have found clues to the causes of age-related hearing loss. The ability to track and understand speech in both quiet and noisy environments deteriorates due in part to speech processing declines in both the midbrain ...

Protective hearing tech in the Army: Not too loud and not too soft

June 7, 2016
(Tech Xplore)—Soldiers' ears have had a tough challenge. Historically, soldiers have had to choose between hearing protection and force protection. In other words, maintaining situational awareness was not in line with ...

Recommended for you

Study compares athlete and truck driver, identical twins

July 20, 2018
When it comes to being fit, are genes or lifestyle—nature or nurture—more important? Researchers at San Francisco State University, CSU Fullerton and Cal Poly, Pomona removed the nature part of the equation by studying ...

Secondhand smoke causing thousands of still births in developing countries

July 20, 2018
The study reveals that more than 40% of all pregnant women in Pakistan are exposed to secondhand smoke—causing approximately 17,000 still births in a year.

Eating iron-fortified grain improves students' attention, memory

July 18, 2018
Adolescent students in a rural school in India who consumed an iron-biofortified version of the grain pearl millet exhibited improved attention and memory compared to those who consumed conventional pearl millet, according ...

Sugar improves memory in over-60s, helping them work smarter

July 18, 2018
Sugar improves memory in older adults – and makes them more motivated to perform difficult tasks at full capacity – according to new research by the University of Warwick.

Vaping tied to blood clots—in mice

July 18, 2018
A new study involving mice raises another concern about the danger of e-cigarettes in humans after experiments showed that short-term exposure to the device's vapors appeared to increase the risk of clot formation.

Lowering hospitals' Medicare costs proves difficult

July 18, 2018
A payment system that provides financial incentives for hospitals that reduce health-care costs for Medicare patients did not lower costs as intended, according to a new study led by Washington University School of Medicine ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.