Background: The population of young adults who are hearing impaired increases yearly, and a device that enables convenient hearing screening could help monitor their hearing. However, background noise is a critical issue that limits the capabilities of such a device. Therefore, this study evaluated the effectiveness of commercial active noise cancellation (ANC) headphones for hearing screening applications in the presence of background noise. In particular, six confounders were used for a comprehensive evaluation. Methods: We enrolled 12 young adults (a total of 23 ears with normal hearing) to participate in this study. A cross-sectional self-controlled study was conducted to explore the effectiveness of hearing screening in the presence of background noise, with a total of 240 test conditions (=3 ANC models × 2 ANC function statuses × 2 noise types × 5 noise levels × 4 frequencies) for each test ear. Subsequently, a linear regression model was used to prove the effectiveness of ANC headphones for hearing screening applications in the presence of background noise with six confounders. Results: The experimental results showed that, on average, the ANC function of headphones can improve the effectiveness of hearing screening tasks in the presence of background noise. Specifically, the statistical analysis showed that the ANC function enabled a significant 10% improvement (p < 0.001) compared with no ANC function. Conclusion: This study confirmed the effectiveness of ANC headphones for young adult hearing screening applications in the presence of background noise. Furthermore, the statistical results confirmed that as confounding variables, noise type, noise level, hearing screening frequency, ANC headphone model, and sex all affect the effectiveness of the ANC function. These findings suggest that ANC is a potential means of helping users obtain high-accuracy hearing screening results in the presence of background noise. Moreover, we present possible directions of development for ANC headphones in future studies.
- Active noise cancellation
- Background noise Hearing screening