“Should my family receive early intervention via telepractice or in-person?” – A pilot study of a decision aid to assist families in making this choice

Dr Monique Waite1,2, Ms Jenny Atkins1,2, Dr Carly Meyer1,2, A/Prof Nerina Scarinci1,2, Ms Emma Rushbrooke1,3, Dr Katie Ekberg1,2, Dr Caitlin Barr1,4, Prof Robert Cowan1,4, Prof Louise Hickson1,2

 1HEARing CRC, Melbourne, Australia,

2School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia,

3Hear and Say, Brisbane, Australia,

 4Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology, the University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia


This presentation summarises results of a pilot study investigating the implementation of a decision aid designed to help families of children with hearing loss choose whether telepractice or an in-person model of early intervention service delivery is more appropriate for their child/family.  The use of telepractice as a mode of service delivery in this population has increased alongside evidence suggesting equivalency of outcomes when compared to in-person service delivery, and that telepractice can improve access to family-centred care. However, a recent study of Australian telepractice services for children with hearing loss reported that not all families are afforded a choice of service delivery model, despite services expressing a desire to increase the use of telepractice for both metropolitan and regional/remote families. Therefore, this study developed a decision aid aimed at assisting families and service providers with choosing whether the option of a telepractice or in-person service delivery model would be more appropriate for the family’s circumstances. Three Australian not-for-profit early intervention services for children with hearing loss participated. The researchers worked with stakeholder groups to develop a decision aid and an implementation plan, tailored to each service. Data was collected from clinicians and families over a 6-month trial through surveys and focus groups. Overall, the decision aid was perceived by clinicians as being a useful information tool. However, implementing it at the time of enrolment into an intervention service proved to be challenging, as some families reportedly felt overwhelmed with too much information at this point. Therefore, the implementation plan was revised, so that in two services, the decision aid was used after enrolment. This change was viewed positively by clinicians, leading to the conclusion that a decision aid can be a useful tool for engaging and empowering families in choices about how early intervention services could be best delivered.


Monique completed her PhD in speech-language pathology at the University of Queensland in 2010. A pioneer of research into the application of telepractice in paediatric speech-language pathology, she is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Queensland, in a position funded by the HEARing Cooperative Research Centre. This position involves leading research in the use of telepractice to improve access and outcomes of children with hearing loss and their families.