Prescribing and Verifying Hearing Aids Applying the American Academy of Audiology Pediatric Amplification Guideline: Protocols and Outcomes from the Ontario Infant Hearing Program

Marlene Bagatto, Sheila Moodie, Christine Brown, April Malandrino, Frances Richert, Debbie Clench, Susan Scollie
Journal of the American Academy of Audiology 2016, 27 (3): 188-203

BACKGROUND: Guidelines and protocols for pediatric hearing aid fitting are necessary to meet the goals of Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) programs. The American Academy of Audiology published an update to their Pediatric Amplification Guideline in 2013. Ontario's Infant Hearing Program (IHP) offers specific protocols that aim to fulfill recommended guidelines. It has recently been updated to align with the American Academy of Audiology Guideline and other evidence.

PURPOSE: A summary of the updates to the Ontario IHP's Amplification Protocol is described. In addition, data illustrating hearing-related outcomes of the program are offered.

RESEARCH DESIGN: The updated Ontario protocol is based on evidence, wherever possible. Where research is not yet available, clinical decision support has been described in a systematic way. Outcomes of the Ontario IHP were obtained through a longitudinal clinical observation study.

STUDY SAMPLE: One hundred and fifteen children with hearing loss, who wore hearing aids, were included in the outcome analyses (mean = 28.6 mo; range = 1.3-115.3 mo). Hearing losses ranged from mild to profound, unilateral or bilateral sensorineural (pure-tone average = 52.3 dB HL). They were recruited from four IHP clinics within Ontario. Children with complexities in addition to hearing loss were included.

INTERVENTION: The children were fitted with hearing aids following Ontario's Amplification Protocol.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSES: During routine clinical appointments, IHP Audiologists administered questionnaires to the parents of their pediatric patients using a systematic outcome measurement protocol (University of Western Ontario Pediatric Audiological Monitoring Protocol). Hearing aid fitting details (e.g., speech intelligibility index) were also gathered to describe the quality of the hearing aid fittings in relation to the functional outcomes. Regression analyses were conducted to characterize scores on the questionnaires and the impact of important variables. Children with complexities were analyzed separately from those who were typically developing.

RESULTS: Important updates to Ontario's Amplification Protocol offer new details about candidacy considerations as well as technical updates. Outcomes from the IHP reveal protocol elements can be executed clinically and when they are, typically developing children who wear hearing aids are meeting auditory development and performance milestones.

CONCLUSIONS: Updates to Ontario's Amplification Protocol are necessary to support the evolution of EHDI programs and the evidence which sustains them. With advances in technology and additional research, pediatric hearing aid fitting will continue to progress and support systematic measurement of outcomes for children who wear hearing aids. The application of state-of-the-art hearing aid fitting practices to the pediatric population within EHDI programs supports good outcomes for infants and children with hearing loss.

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