Digits in noise testing in a multilingual sample of Asian adults
Objective: Appropriate speech-in noise assessment is challenging in multilingual populations. This study
aimed to assess whether first preferred language affected performance on an English Digits-in-noise (DIN)
test in the local Asian multilingual population, controlling for hearing threshold, age, sex, English fluency
and educational status. A secondary aim was to determine the association between DIN test scores and
Design: English digit-triplets in noise testing and pure-tone audiometry were conducted. Multiple regression
analysis was performed with DIN scores and hearing thresholds as dependent variables. Correlation
analysis was performed between DIN-SRT and hearing thresholds.
Study sample: 165 subjects from the Singapore Longitudinal Ageing Study, a population-based longitudinal
study of community-dwellers over 55 years of age.
Results: Mean DIN speech reception threshold (DIN-SRT) was 5.7 dB SNR (SD 3.6; range 6.7 to 11.2).
Better ear pure tone average and English fluency were significantly associated with DIN-SRT.
Conclusions: DIN performance was independent of first preferred language in a multilingual ageing
Singaporean population after adjusting for age, gender and education. Those with poorer English fluency
had a significantly lower DIN-SRT score. The DIN test has the potential to provide a quick, uniform
method of testing speech in noise in this multilingual population.