Why do people love tests? After enduring 12 to 20 years of gut-wrenching tests and quizzes in our schools, we now seek them out like a bunch of Lance Armstrongs looking for that last bike race. The fact is that I’ve spent more time puzzling over Isaac Asimov’s Super Quiz than I ever spent puzzling over his epic Foundation books, and I secretly fear the Super Quiz assessment “plenty smart but no grind” will find its way into my eulogy.

So, what is it about tests that adults love? Well, for one thing, as long as you’ve graduated from the 5th grade and no longer have that weaselly Bucky Pearson sitting in back of you and copying your answers, most of the tests you take today are completely anonymous. They’re yours to bungle; they’re yours to interpret; they’re yours to dismiss. This also makes them stress-free—in glorious contrast to all those Hail-Mary-full-of-grace midterms and finals.

But tests also give you the opportunity to learn more about yourself.

An amazing test for self-identifying hearing loss. In this edition of HR, Sergei Kochkin, PhD, and Ruth Bentler, PhD, provide information about the validity of the Better Hearing Institute (BHI) Quick Hearing Check. This simple 3- to 5-minute test serves as an accurate tool to inform people about their hearing status. The 15 statements on the test are comprised of basic common-sense signs of hearing loss that enables the test-taker, on a scale of 0 to 4, to agree or disagree. For example, questions include “I have trouble understanding things on TV,” “I have to worry about missing a telephone ring or doorbell,” and “Family members and friends have told me they think I may have a hearing loss.”

The authors show that this simple test is extremely efficient at identifying people with hearing losses of 40 dB or higher, and in some cases is quite good at correlating the test results to puretone threshold averages. This makes the BHI Hearing Check a free and dependable hearing loss self-identification and education tool for the masses.

A golden opportunity. There are currently two easy-to-use versions of this test—and both can be used for free and without permission from BHI (www.betterhearing.org). One is a paper-and-pencil form (shown here) in which the test-taker simply circles his/her responses and then uses the instructions on the back of the sheet to obtain a hearing score and recommendation for taking action. A simpler “no brainer” version that automatically scores the test and presents the results with the click of a button can be found online at www.hearingcheck.org (also a BHI Web site).

It’s my hope that hearing care professionals and the hearing industry will instantly see the huge opportunity this test affords us and use it in all hearing-related promotions. In particular, this test is ideal for including in full-page newspaper ads. As stated earlier, people enjoy taking these tests, and I believe that the curiosity value alone would make it valuable in the marketing of a dispensing office. Likewise, placing your name and contact information on the form, then distributing copies to other health care professionals (dentists, GPs, chiropractors, etc), senior centers, and health fairs would yield great referrals with very little effort.

Finally, every Web site in our industry should offer either a PDF download of this test and/or a link to www.hearingcheck.org. The BHI Hearing Check is a “fun” self-identification tool that consumers can use—without embarrassment or stress—to assess their hearing status and start their journey to better hearing.

Karl Strom