Alternative Metrics for Real-Ear-to-Coupler Difference Average Values in Children.
Background: Ideally, individual real-ear-to-coupler difference (RECD) measurements are obtained for pediatric hearing instrument-fitting purposes. When RECD measurements cannot be obtained, age-related average RECDs based on typically developing North American children are used. Evidence suggests that these values may not be appropriate for populations of children with retarded growth patterns. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine if another metric, such as head circumference, height, or weight, can be used for prediction of RECDs in children. Research Design: Design was a correlational study. For all participants, RECD values in both ears, head circumference, height, and weight were measured. Study Sample: The sample consisted of 68 North American children (ages 3-11 yr). Data Collection and Analysis: Height, weight, head circumference, and RECDs were measured and were analyzed for both ears at 500, 750, 1000, 1500, 2000, 3000, 4000, and 6000 Hz. A backward elimination multiple-regression analysis was used to determine if age, height, weight, and/or head circumference are significant predictors of RECDs. Results: For the left ear, head circumference was retained as the only statistically significant variable in the final model. For the right ear, head circumference was retained as the only statistically significant independent variable at all frequencies except at 2000 and 4000 Hz. At these latter frequencies, weight was retained as the only statistically significant independent variable after all other variables were eliminated. Conclusions: Head circumference can be considered as a metric for RECD prediction in children when individual measurements cannot be obtained. In developing countries where equipment is often unavailable and stunted growth can reduce the value of using age as a metric, head circumference can be considered as an alternative metric in the prediction of RECDs.