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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Kentucky: Children with Hearing Loss Need Improved Access to Behavioral Interventions

Are behavioral problems more prevalent among preschool-aged children with hearing loss, compared to peers with normal hearing? In a new paper published in Otology & Neurotology, a group of researchers from the University of Kentucky College of Public Health review the results of their investigation into this question.

In a cross-sectional study conducted at a tertiary academic medical center, investigators from clinical, biostatistics, and behavioral health backgrounds collected data from caregivers of children 2 to 5 years old with normal hearing, as well as children with hearing loss using hearing aid(s) or cochlear implant(s). Demographic information and a mental health history were obtained. Child behavior and language development were assessed. The main outcomes measures employed were the Young Child-Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children-IV and the MacArthur-Bates Communication Development Inventory III.

Distributions of race, socioeconomic status, insurance status, and parental home situation (single- versus two-parent family) were similar across all groups. Parents of children with hearing loss were significantly more likely to report behavior problems than parents of children with normal hearing. Children with hearing loss were significantly more likely to meet diagnostic criteria for oppositional defiant disorder  than those with normal hearing. More children with normal hearing than hearing than children with hearing loss children had accessed mental health services. Children with normal hearing children were found to have more advanced language development than hearing-impaired children, but controlling for Communication Development Inventory III percentiles, the observed behavioral differences remained.

The investigators conclude that even controlling for language development, children with hearing loss have higher prevalence of and impairment from disruptive behaviors than their peers with normal hearing; these children are also less likely to receive appropriate behavioral interventions. Further research is warranted to investigate the impact of disruptive behaviors on speech and hearing rehabilitation. Methods to improve access to effective behavioral interventions in this population are needed.

Authors include: Dr. Philip M. Westgate, Kentucky’s Department of Biostatistics, as well as Ms. Julie A. Jacobs, and  Dr. Christina R. Studts, both of the Kentucky’s Department of Health, Behavior and Society.

[Photo:  Dr. Christina R. Studts, and Dr. Philip M. Westgate)