Detection of hearing loss beyond the newborn period: A systems approach

Dr Rachael Beswick1

 1Children’s Health Qld, Nundah, Australia


Unlike newborn hearing screening, the current system to detect hearing loss that develops after the newborn period is de-centralised and unco-ordinated. In Queensland, there are several state-funded and non-government programs, however, there is little consistency or alignment across programs regarding structure, protocols, or referral pathways. Given this, Children’s Health Queensland were tasked with examining the current hearing screening environment beyond the newborn period including establishing a Collaborative of programs currently active in this sector. Prior to establishing a Collaborative, using a critical systems heuristics approach, a series of interviews and questionnaires were conducted with major stakeholder groups to understand the multiple perspectives on the current system as well as reveal their ideal situation.

Results indicate that there are many gaps reported in the current system. Although some gaps are straightforward and can be easily addressed by the Collaborative, others are more complex and require further government resources, commitment, and support. Not surprisingly, there were also discrepancies across stakeholder groups regarding who ought to be clients of a future system (i.e. population screening or targeted) as well as the overall purpose of the program (detection of permanent or transient conductive hearing loss). The first meeting of the Collaborative is in February 2019, with the outcomes of this meeting presented. It is hoped that by implementing a Collaborative, the system for detection of hearing loss beyond the newborn period will transform.


Dr Rachael Beswick is the Director of Queensland’s newborn hearing screening program, Healthy Hearing. Rachael completed her Bachelor of Speech Pathology, Masters of Audiological Studies, and PhD at the University of Queensland, and recently completed her MBA at the Queensland University of Technology. Her primary areas of research lie in screening programs, risk factors, detection of postnatal hearing loss, and quality assurance processes. She has published several scientific papers, and has presented her research at both national and international conferences.