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National survey of paediatric audiological services for diagnosis and intervention in the South African private health care sector

Miriam E Meyer, De Wet Swanepoel, Talita le Roux
South African Journal of Communication Disorders. die Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif Vir Kommunikasieafwykings 2014 November 11, 61 (1): e1-e8
26305440

OBJECTIVE: A national survey of early hearing detection and intervention services was undertaken to describe the current status of diagnostic and intervention services in the South African private health care sector.

METHODS: All private hospitals with obstetric units (n = 166) were surveyed telephonically. The data was integrated with data collected from self-administered questionnaires subsequently distributed nationally to private audiology practices providing hearing screening at the respective hospitals reporting hearing screening services (n = 87). Data was analysed descriptively to yield national percentages and frequency distributions.

RESULTS: Average reported age at diagnosis was 11 months. Most participants (74%) indicated that less than 20% of infants fitted with hearing aids received amplification before the age of 6 months. Most (64%) participants indicated that the average period between confirmed diagnosis and hearing aid fitting was 1 month, on par with international benchmarks. Only 16%-23% of participants included all diagnostic procedures recommended by the Health Professions Council of South Africa's 2007 position statement for minimum diagnostic test batteries for infants and young children.

CONCLUSIONS: Diagnosis of hearing loss, hearing aid fitting and audiological intervention is delayed significantly in the South African private health care sector. Improved services should include integrated systematic hospital-based screening as part of birthing packages with diagnostic referral to specialist paediatric audiologists for accurate assessment and management of patients in a timely manner.

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