Panel presentation: Screening during early childhood and beyond: target populations, approaches, interventions and justifications

Dr Kirsty Gardner-berry1, Dr Zeffie Poulakis2Dr Rachael Beswick3Dr Harvey Dillon1, Ms Jennifer Bergman4, Ms Alison King5

1National Acoustic Laboratories, Sydney, NSW, Australia

2Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, Australia

3Healthy Hearing Queensland, QLD, Australia

4Hear & Say, Ashgrove, QLD, Australia

5Australian Hearing, Sydney, NSW, Australia

There is increasing interest in the area of hearing screening in childhood to identify children who missed newborn hearing screen or developed late-onset hearing loss. Whilst screening for health conditions is a logical way to help combat disease, in practice there are multiple factors that need to be considered before embarking on a program. In a review of the World Health Organization justification for screening criteria (2008) the following criteria were highlighted. Clear objectives for screening have been outlined; a method of program evaluation has been developed for use at the outset; the target population has been defined; there is scientific evidence of program effectiveness; and there is the capacity for screening to be integrated with clinical services and overall programme management. Steps to address these have already taken place for universal newborn hearing screening programs across Australia and New Zealand. However, a similar systematic approach is yet to be undertaken on a large scale for pre-school or school-age children.
The objective of this session is to provide a platform to initiate open discussion about how the WHO criteria relate to childhood hearing screening in the context of the populations of Australia and New Zealand. The presentations and panel discussions are designed to follow that of Dr Harvey Dillon, whereby the target population will be more clearly defined based on the demographic data recorded by Australian Hearing for children fitted with hearing aids for the first time at school-age. Panel members will discuss whether there is existing evidence of program effectiveness, the option of screening for prevention rather than intervention, personal experiences running a program, and key considerations from a program justification and management perspective.


Dr Kirsty Gardner-Berry is a diagnostic, research and consultant audiologist working at SCIC, the National Acoustic Laboratories, and Scanmedics. Kirsty’s main area of interest is in the use of electrophysiological testing techniques to assess auditory function in individuals with auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder, and for population-based newborn hearing screening programs.

The specialist joining Kirsty for this session include Dr Harvey Dillon from the National Acoustic Laboratories, Ms Alison King from Australian Hearing, Dr Rachael Beswick from the Healthy Hearing program in Queensland, and Dr. Zeffie Poulakis from the Victorian Infant Hearing Screening Program.