Informed choice: Parental decision-making following diagnosis of their baby’s unilateral hearing loss

Mrs Ann Porter1

Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia

Newborn hearing screening standards and guidelines recommend that parents make informed decisions about the management of their baby’s unilateral hearing loss following diagnosis. Making informed decisions requires knowledge about the available options.  Informed decisions also involve understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each option, as well as what the consequences of choosing an option might be for each child and family both now and in the future. There is, however, little evidence available as to the best way to manage unilateral hearing loss in babies.  The range of options available to parents following the diagnosis of their baby’s unilateral hearing loss varies considerably across Australia from watchful waiting to cochlear implantation. How do parents make decisions in this uncertain environment?

This paper discusses the findings of semi-structured interviews with parents whose children have been diagnosed with a unilateral hearing loss in the past three years. The options provided to parents are investigated and the process they undertook to make their decisions is explored. The initial interviews indicate the variability of information provided to parents and how this impacts on their decision-making experiences.


Ann Porter AM is the founder of Aussie Deaf Kids – an organisation providing online information and support to parents of children with hearing loss. She is currently doing a PhD investigating parent decision-making and decision support tools through the School of Applied Psychology at Griffith University. She has a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy and a Master of eHealthcare.

Ann collaborates extensively with parents, consumer organisations, service providers and government both in Australia and overseas to ensure families receive the services and support they need to competently and happily raise their deaf or hard of hearing child.