Validity, discriminative ability, and reliability of the hearing-related quality of life questionnaire for adolescents

Tara Rachakonda, Donna B. Jeffe, Jennifer J. Shin, Leila Mankarious, Robert J. Fanning, Marci M. Lesperance, Judith E.C. Lieu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Objectives/Hypothesis The prevalence of hearing loss (HL) in adolescents has grown over the past decade, but hearing-related quality of life (QOL) has not been well-measured. We sought to develop a reliable, valid measure of hearing-related QOL for adolescents and the Hearing Environments And Reflection on Quality of Life (HEAR-QL). Study Design Multisite observational study. Methods Adolescents with HL and siblings without HL were recruited from five centers. Participants completed the HEAR-QL and validated questionnaires measuring generic pediatric QOL (PedsQL), depression and anxiety (RCADS-25), and hearing-related QOL for adults (HHIA) to determine construct and discriminant validity. Participants completed the HEAR-QL 2 weeks later for test-retest reliability. We used exploratory principal components analysis to determine the HEAR-QL factor structure and measured reliability. Sensitivity and specificity of the HEAR-QL, PedsQL, HHIA, and RCADS-25 were assessed. We compared scores on all surveys between those with normal hearing, unilateral, and bilateral HL. Results A total of 233 adolescents (13-18 years old) participated: 179 with HL, 54 without HL. The original 45-item HEAR-QL was shortened to 28 items after determining factor structure. The resulting HEAR-QL-28 demonstrated excellent reliability (Cronbach's alpha = 0.95) and construct validity (HHIA: r =.845, PedsQL: r =.587; RCADS-25: r =.433). The HEAR-QL-28 displayed excellent discriminant validity, with higher area under the curve (0.932) than the PedsQL (0.597) or RCADS-25 (0.529). Teens with bilateral HL using hearing devices reported worse QOL on the HEAR-QL and HHIA than peers with HL not using devices. Conclusions The HEAR-QL is a sensitive, reliable, and valid measure of hearing-related QOL for adolescents. Level of Evidence 2b.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)570-578
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • Adolescents
  • hearing loss
  • quality of life
  • validation study


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