Screening questions fail to identify teens at risk for hearing loss
Penn State – News
By Jennifer Abbasi
October 23, 2014
HERSHEY, Pa. — Subjective screening questions do not reliably identify teenagers who are at risk for hearing loss, according to researchers at Penn State College of Medicine. The results suggest that objective hearing tests should be refined for this age group to replace screening questions.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, in partnership with the Bright Futures children’s health organization, sets standards for pediatric preventive care. The AAP recommends screening adolescents with subjective questions and then following up with objective hearing tests for those found to be at high risk of hearing loss. However, the screening questions were not specifically developed for children or adolescents. Studies also show that adolescents are poor self-reporters of hearing status.
“We found that you can’t rely on the Bright Futures questions to select out teenagers at high risk for hearing loss who would warrant an objective screen,” said Deepa Sekhar, M.D., M.Sc., assistant professor of pediatrics.
A study in 2010 using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed that one in five adolescents aged 12 to 19 has hearing loss. Most have high-frequency hearing loss, which may be related to increasing hazardous noise exposures from such things as personal listening devices, concert-going, ATV-riding and hunting with firearms.
For the study, eleventh grade students at Hershey High School — located in the college’s community — answered the 10 Bright Futures hearing screening questions and additional questions assessing other potential risk factors for adolescent hearing loss. They also took the Pennsylvania state-mandated hearing test — the familiar hearing screening where children raise their hand when they hear a tone — and a hearing test developed by the researchers to better detect high-frequency noise-related hearing loss. Some of the children underwent additional standard hearing testing in a soundproof booth. The researchers report their results in the Journal of Medical Screening.