Availability of audiological equipment and protocols for paediatric assessment and hearing aid fitting in Gauteng, South Africa

Leanne Teixeira, Karin Joubert
South African Journal of Communication Disorders. die Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif Vir Kommunikasieafwykings 2014 August 27, 61 (1)

BACKGROUND: Accurate diagnosis and management of hearing loss (HL) is based on valid and accurate ear-specific and frequency-specific information. This is especially relevant as non-optimal hearing amplification as part of early hearing detection and intervention programmes may result in further delays in the speech and language development of children with HL. Audiological measures utilised may vary according to the age, cognitive ability and physical ability of the infant or child. It is therefore important to compare and critically evaluate current clinical practice in order to recommend guidelines for paediatric audiology in South Africa.

OBJECTIVES: To determine the availability of audiological equipment and clinical protocols used by audiologists in Gauteng for paediatric audiological assessment and hearing aid (HA) fitting.

METHOD: A descriptive, cross-sectional survey research design was utilised to describe the availability of clinical audiological equipment and protocols used by audiologists in Gauteng, South Africa for paediatric assessment and HA fitting. Eighteen audiology departments, eleven public hospitals and seven private practices were included in the study.

RESULTS: Results revealed the limited availability of departmental protocols within departments for paediatric assessment and HA fitting. Although there appeared to be a wide variety of equipment available to audiologists in public sector hospitals and private practice, a lack of high-frequency tympanometers and equipment for real ear measurements was revealed.

CONCLUSION: These findings highlight the need for the development and use of current, evidence-based practice guidelines for paediatric audiological assessment and HA fitting in South Africa. These guidelines should include a list of essential equipment required for paediatric assessment and HA fitting. Current, evidence-based practice guidelines for paediatric HA fitting are important in ensuring that secondary developmental delays associated with a delay in early intervention for children with HL are reduced.

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