Parent perceptions and experiences of managing young children with mild hearing loss: A qualitative study

Dr Jing Jing Lin1, Dr Valerie Sung1,2,4,6, Prof Lynn Gillam2,3,6, Ms Libby Smith1, Dr Peter Carew6, Dr Alison King5, Dr Teresa Ching7

1Centre for Community Child Health, Melbourne, Australia,

2The Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, Australia,

3Children’s Bioethics Centre, Melbourne, Australia,

4Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Melbourne, Australia,

5Australian Hearing, Melbourne, Australia,

6The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia,

7National Acoustic Laboratory, Sydney, Australia


Purpose of presentation

To outline findings of a qualitative study exploring parental experiences related to the management of mild bilateral hearing loss in children.

Nature and scope of topics

The Mild Matters study aimed to explore and describe parental experiences related to the management of mild bilateral hearing loss in children <3 years old.

Specifically, the study explored the initial counselling and management options offered to families as well as the potential benefits and harms of offering hearing device fitting early.

Issue or problem under consideration

Children who are diagnosed early with mild congenital hearing loss are presenting as a new group emerging as a result of Universal Newborn Hearing Screening. In the limited research available, the benefit of hearing device fitting for these children is conflicting. This has resulted in uncertainty about the appropriate clinical intervention for infants and young children with mild hearing loss. We do not know what the current practices are in providing counselling to families to young children with mild hearing loss, and whether there are any benefits or harms with fitting hearing devices early for these children.

Outcome or conclusion reached

There was wide variation in the management of mild bilateral hearing loss in children <3 years old. Uncertainty from clinicians often led parents to carry the burden of clinical decision making.

Overall, concerns regarding potential harms of not fitting hearing devices often led to hearing devices being adopted for use. Whilst some parents reported positive impacts of hearing devices, others were ambivalent about their impact. There were also significant difficulties with hearing device use and most families were not using hearing devices regularly at time of interview. The study also identified that families were not adequately prepared for these difficulties.


Dr Jing Jing Lin is a doctor completing dual specialty training in General Paediatrics and Community Child Health. She will be completing her General Paediatrics training in 2018. Currently her work in Community Child Health focuses on developmental and behavioural problems. She works from community centres such as schools, kindergartens and maternal child health.