New NAL study a PROMO for helping children with hearing loss

Around 30 per cent of children referred to Hearing Australia experience mild hearing loss in both ears (bilateral hearing loss or MBHL).  

Despite the high proportion of children diagnosed with MBHL, there is currently little evidence about the effectiveness of early hearing intervention, particularly regarding the use of hearing aids, and whether this leads to better developmental outcomes.

The National Acoustic Laboratories (NAL), the research division of Hearing Australia, is currently looking to fill this evidence gap through new research – the Profiling Mild Outcomes (PROMO) study. NAL is inviting parents and carers of children aged 12 years and under diagnosed with MBHL to complete an online survey.

Alison King, Hearing Australia Principal Audiologist for Paediatric Services, says that the PROMO study will provide unique and valuable insights that will be used to inform evidence-based, family centred clinical management protocols to help the many children living with MBHL.

“When parents are presented with the option of hearing aids for their child, particularly when their child is very young, they will often ask ‘do I need to make this choice right now?’”, says Alison. “We know that hearing aids can be helpful for some, but not all, children with mild hearing loss, and predicting whether a child with MBHL might benefit from hearing aids can be challenging. Understandably, parents want reassurance that they are making the right decision, but based on the current evidence, we cannot give them a definitive answer as to whether their child will benefit from wearing hearing aids.

“It’s important that audiologists are able to recommend the right options at the right time.” 

Lead researcher for the PROMO study, Vivienne Marnane from NAL, says that while clinicians can provide hearing aids and other support for children with MBHL, there is currently a lack of evidence around the benefit of fitting hearing aids to these children or the optimal age for doing so that will lead to better language, learning and social outcomes.   

“This research will help to give children with MBHL the best possible chance of meeting critical learning and development milestones and thrive,” says Vivienne. 

The PROMO study survey takes approximately 20 minutes for parents to complete and includes questions about their child’s hearing diagnosis, treatment and outcomes. NAL is aiming to analyse the responses of 500 caregivers.

Parents and carers of children with MBHL can complete the PROMO study survey here: https://redcap.nal.gov.au/surveys/?s=WKH3KH9XRC8F3W79

The ethical aspects of this research have been approved by the Australian Hearing Human Research Ethics Committee. All information collected will be handled in accordance with the ethics approval for this study and with Hearing Australia’s Privacy Policy.

For any questions about the project or the survey, please email vivienne.marnane@nal.gov.au