Style Preference Survey: A Report on the Psychometric Properties and a Cross-Validation Experiment

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Background: Several self-report measures exist that target different aspects of outcomes for hearing aid use. Currently, no comprehensive questionnaire specifically assesses factors that may be important for differentiating outcomes pertaining to hearing aid style. Purpose: The goal of this work was to develop the Style Preference Survey (SPS), a questionnaire aimed at outcomes associated with hearing aid style differences. Two experiments were conducted. After initial item development, Experiment 1 was conducted to refine the items and to determine its psychometric properties. Experiment 2 was designed to cross-validate the findings from the initial experiment. Research Design: An observational design was used in both experiments. Study Sample: Participants who wore traditional, custom-fitted (TC) or open-canal (OC) style hearing aids from 3 mo to 3 yr completed the initial experiment. One-hundred and eighty-four binaural hearing aid users (120 of whom wore TC hearing aids and 64 of whom wore OC hearing aids) participated. A new sample of TC and OC users (n 5 185) participated in the cross-validation experiment. Data Collection and Analysis: Currently available self-report measures were reviewed to identify items that might differentiate between hearing aid styles, particularly preference for OC versus TC hearing aid styles. A total of 15 items were selected and modified from available self-report measures. An additional 55 items were developed through consensus of six audiologists for the initial version of the SPS. In the first experiment, the initial SPS version was mailed to 550 veterans who met the inclusion criteria. A total of 184 completed the SPS. Approximately three weeks later, a subset of participants (n 5 83) completed the SPS a second time. Basic analyses were conducted to evaluate the psychometric properties of the SPS including subscale structure, internal consistency, test-retest reliability, and responsiveness. Based on the results of Experiment 1, the SPS was revised. A cross-validation experiment was then conducted using the revised version of the SPS to confirm the subscale structure, internal consistency, and responsiveness of the questionnaire in a new sample of participants Results: The final factor analysis led to the ultimate version of the SPS, which had a total of 35 items encompassing five subscales: (1) Feedback, (2) Occlusion/Own Voice Effects, (3) Localization, (4) Fit, Comfort, and Cosmetics, and (5) Ease of Use. The internal consistency of the total SPS (Cronbach'sa5 .92) and of the subscales (each Cronbach'sa..75) was high. Intraclass correlations (ICCs) showed that the test-retest reliability of the total SPS (ICC5.93) and of the subscales (each ICC..80) also was high. TC hearing aid users had significantly poorer outcomes than OC hearing aid users on 4 of the 5 subscales, suggesting that the SPS largely is responsive to factors related to style-specific differences. Conclusions: The results suggest that the SPS has good psychometric properties and is a valid and reliable measure of outcomes related to style-specific, hearing aid preference.