Hearing in Real-Life Environments (HERE): Structure and Reliability of a Questionnaire on Perceived Hearing for Older Adults

Antje Heinrich, TM Mikkola, H Polku, T Törmäkangas, A Viljanen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: The ability to hear in a variety of social situations and environments is vital for social participation and a high quality of life. One way to assess hearing ability is by means of self-report questionnaire. For questionnaires to be useful, their measurement properties, based on careful validation, have to be known. Only recently has consensus been reached concerning how to perform such validation and been published as COSMIN (consensus-based standards for the selection of health status measurement instruments) guidelines. Here the authors use these guidelines to evaluate the measurement properties of the "Hearing in Real-Life Environments" (HERE) questionnaire, a newly developed self-report measure that assesses speech perception, spatial orientation, and the social-emotional consequences of hearing impairment in older adults. The aim is to illustrate the process of validation and encourage similar examinations of other frequently used questionnaires. DESIGN: The HERE questionnaire includes 15 items with a numeric rating scale from 0 to 10 for each item and allows the assessment of hearing with and without hearing aids. The evaluation was performed in two cohorts of community-dwelling older adults from Finland (n = 581, mean 82 years) and the United Kingdom (n = 50, mean 69 years). The internal structure of the questionnaire and its relationship to age, hearing level, and self-reported and behavioral measures of speech perception was assessed and, when possible, compared between cohorts. RESULTS: The results of the factor analysis showed that the HERE's internal structure was similar across cohorts. In both cohorts, the factor analysis showed a satisfactory solution for three factors (speech hearing, spatial hearing, and socio-emotional consequences), with a high internal consistency for each factor (Cronbach's α's for the factors from 0.90 to 0.97). Test-retest analysis showed the HERE overall mean score to be stable and highly replicable over time (intraclass correlation coefficient = 0.86, standard error of measurement of the test score = 0.92). The HERE overall mean score correlated highly with another self-report measure of speech perception, the Speech Spatial Qualities of Hearing questionnaire (standardized regression coefficient [β] = -0.75, p < 0.001), moderately highly with behaviorally assessed hearing level (best-ear average: β = 0.45 to 0.46), and moderately highly with behaviorally measured intelligibility of sentences in noise (β = -0.50, p < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Using the COSMIN guidelines, the authors show that the HERE is a valid, reliable, and stable questionnaire for the assessment of self-reported speech perception, sound localization, and the socio-emotional consequences of hearing impairment in the context of social functioning. The authors also show that cross-cultural data collected using different data collection strategies can be combined with a range of statistical methods to validate a questionnaire.This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial License 4.0 (CCBY-NC), where it is permissible to download, share, remix, transform, and buildup the work provided it is properly cited. The work cannot be used commercially without permission from the journal.
Original languageEnglish
Article number10.1177/2331216517744675
JournalEar and hearing
Early online date25 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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