Current practice, accuracy, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the school entry hearing screen

Authors: Bamford J, Fortnum H, Bristow K, Smith J, Vamvakas G, Davies L, Taylor R, Watkin P, Fonseca S, Davis A, Hind S

Journal: Health Technology Assessment Volume: 11 Issue: 32

Publication date: August 2007

DOI: 10.3310/hta11320

Citation:

Bamford J, Fortnum H, Bristow K, Smith J, Vamvakas G, Davies L, et al.Current practice, accuracy, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the school entry hearing screen. Health Technol Assess 2007;11(32)


Download: Citation (for this publication as a .ris file) (4.8 KB)


Journal issues* can be purchased by completing the form.


The cost of reports varies according to number of pages and postage address. The minimum cost for a copy sent to a UK address is £30.00. We will contact you on receipt of your completed form to advise you of actual cost. If you have any queries, please contact nihredit@southampton.ac.uk.


*We regret that unfortunately we are unable to supply bound print copies of Health Technology Assessment published before issue 12:31. However, PDFs are available to print from the "Downloads" tab of the issue page.

Responses

No responses have been published. If you would like to submit a response to this publication, please do so using the form below.

Comments submitted to the NIHR Journals Library are electronic letters to the editor. They enable our readers to debate issues raised in research reports published in the Journals Library. We aim to post within 2 working days all responses that contribute substantially to the topic investigated, as determined by the Editors.

Your name and affiliations will be published with your comment.

Once published, you will not have the right to remove or edit your response. The Editors may add, remove, or edit comments at their absolute discretion.

Post your response

Surname

Forename

Middle Initial

Occupation / Job title

Affiliation / Employer

Email

Address

Other authors

For example, if you are responding as a team or group. Please ensure you include full names and separate these using commas

Statement of competing interests

We believe that readers should be aware of any competing interests (conflicts of interest).

The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) define competing interests as including: financial relationships with industry (for example through employment, consultancies, stock, ownership, honoraria, and expert testimony), either directly or through immediate family; personal relationships; academic competition; and intellectual passion.

If yes, provide details below:

Enter response title

Enter response message

Enter CAPTCHA

Security key

Regenerate security key

By submitting your response, you are stating that you agree to the terms & conditions

The full text of this issue is available as a PDF document from the Downloads section on this page.

Abstract

Objectives

To describe and analyse in detail current practice of school entry hearing screening (SES) in the UK.

Data sources

Main electronic databases were searched up to May 2005.

Review methods

A national postal questionnaire survey was addressed to all leads for SES in the UK, considering current practice in terms of implementation, protocols, target population and performance data. Primary data from cohort studies in one area of London were examined. A systematic review of alternative SES tests, test performance and impact on outcomes was carried out. Finally, a review of published studies on costs, plus economic modelling of current and alternative programmes was prepared.

Results

The survey suggested that SES is used in most of England, Wales and Scotland; just over 10% of respondents have abandoned the screen; others are awaiting national guidance. Coverage of SES is variable, but is often over 90% for children in state schools. Referral rates are variable, with a median of about 8%. The test used for the screen is the pure tone sweep test but with wide variation in implementation, with differing frequencies, pass criteria and retest protocols; written examples of protocols were often poor and ambiguous. There is no national approach to data collection, audit and quality assurance, and there are variable approaches at local level. The screen is performed in less than ideal test conditions and resources are often limited, which has an impact on the quality of the screen. The primary cohort studies show that the prevalence of permanent childhood hearing loss continues to increase through infancy. Of the 3.47 in 1000 children with a permanent hearing loss at school screen age, 1.89 in 1000 required identification after the newborn screen. Newborn hearing screening is likely to reduce significantly the yield of SES for permanent bilateral and unilateral hearing impairments; yield had fallen from about 1.11 in 1000 before newborn screening to about 0.34 in 1000 for cohorts that had had newborn screening, of which only 0.07 in 1000 were unilateral impairments. Just under 20% of permanent moderate or greater bilateral, mild bilateral and unilateral impairments, known to services as 6-year-olds or older, remained to be identified around the time of school entry. No good-quality published comparative trials of alternative screens or tests for SES were identified and studies concerned with the relative accuracy of alternative tests are difficult to compare and often flawed by differing referral criteria and case definitions; with full pure tone audiometry as the reference test, the pure tone sweep test appears to have high sensitivity and high specificity for minimal, mild and greater hearing impairments, better than alternative tests for which evidence was identified. There is insufficient evidence regarding possible harm of the screen. There were no published studies identified that examined the possible effects of SES on longer term outcomes. No good-quality published economic evaluations of SES were identified and a universal SES based on pure tone sweep tests was associated with higher costs and slightly higher quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) compared with no screen and other screen alternatives; the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio for such a screen is around 2500 pounds per QALY gained; the range of expected costs, QALYs and net benefits was broad, indicating a considerable degree of uncertainty. Targeted screening could be more cost-effective than universal school entry screening; however, the lack of primary data and the wide limits for variables in the modelling mean that any conclusions must be considered indicative and exploratory only. A national screening programme for permanent hearing impairment at school entry meets all but three of the criteria for a screening programme, but at least six criteria are not met for screening for temporary hearing impairment.

Conclusions

The lack of good-quality evidence in this area remains a serious problem. Services should improve quality and audit screen performance for identification of previously unknown permanent hearing impairment, pending evidence-based policy decisions based on the research recommendations. Further research is needed into a number of important areas including the evaluation of an agreed national protocol for services delivering SES to make future studies and audits of screen performance more directly comparable.

Publication updates

If you would like to receive information on publications and the latest news, click below to sign up.