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Universal Newborn Hearing Screening: Parental Reflections on Very Early Audiological Management

McCracken, Wendy; Young, Alys; Tattersall, Helen

doi: 10.1097/AUD.0b013e31815ed8d0
Research Articles

Objective: This article seeks to understand very early audiological management from a parental perspective, after the early identification of their child's hearing loss through universal newborn hearing screening (UNHS).

Design: Data are taken from the national evaluation of the introduction of UNHS in England. Forty-five parents and caregivers participated in a qualitative, narrative study within which they identified key challenges generated by the audiological management of very young babies with hearing loss at home.

Results: Concern centered on the virtual timetable constructed by parents after screening, the practical daily management issues and the need to establish infant rather than a child focus in audiological practice. In addition, specific challenges relating to moderate hearing loss were identified.

Conclusions: Results are of particular relevance to pediatric audiologists, teachers of the deaf* and those offering early intervention services.

This is a qualitative study that used narrative interviews to explore the views of parents. Within this paradigm parents decide what is meaningful, allowing consideration of diversity of parental experience in the context of Newborn Hearing Screening. The sample included 45 parents/carers, from 15 hospital and 2 community sites. This study provides an insider view of the demands, expectations and practical issues faced by parents. Whilst supporting the introduction of the UNHS program parents discuss how some of the challenges inherent in audiological management of very early identified children could be addressed.

From the University of Manchester, School of Psychological Sciences, Human Communication and Deafness, Manchester, United Kingdom.

Address for correspondence: Wendy McCracken, University of Manchester, School of Psychological Sciences, Human Communication and Deafness, Humanities Building, Devas Street, Manchester, M13 9PL, United Kingdom. E-mail:

Received April 1, 2005; accepted February 15, 2006.

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.