Reducing Childhood Hearing Loss in Rural Alaska Through a Preschool Screening and Referral Process Using Mobile Health and Telemedicine
|The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Read our disclaimer for details.|
|ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT03662256|
Recruitment Status : Completed
First Posted : September 7, 2018
Last Update Posted : June 16, 2020
The population in rural Alaska, which is predominately Alaska Native, experiences a disproportionately high burden of hearing loss compared to the general US population. The impact of untreated hearing loss in early childhood is tremendous and has grave implications for school achievement. Preschool children with hearing loss experience speech and language delays and are less likely to be ready for kindergarten than their normal-hearing peers. Early identification and treatment can reverse these ill effects. Importantly, the majority of hearing loss in this age group in rural Alaska is infection-mediated, arising from acute and chronic otitis media that is treatable.
In response, preschool hearing screening is federally mandated at all Head Start centers across the country. In accordance with this mandate, hearing screening is already performed by the three organizations that offer early childhood education in the Norton Sound region: Kawerak Inc, RurAL CAP, and Bering Strait School District.
While the concept of screening in this age group is well established nationally, what is less well understood is the optimal screening protocol for preschool children. There is little evidence evaluating sensitivity and specificity of different screening protocols in this age group. Further, loss to follow up in the referral stage is a problem in preschool hearing screening just as it is in school hearing screening.
Alaska has already developed innovative strategies to address hearing loss. A network of village health clinics staffed by community health aides provide local care, and telemedicine has been adopted in over 250 village clinics statewide. Despite being widely available, telemedicine has not yet been used to speed up the referral process for preventive services such as hearing screening.
Norton Sound Health Corporation has partnered with Duke and Johns Hopkins Universities to evaluate hearing screening and referral processes in early childhood education in the Norton Sound region of northwest Alaska. Preschool children will receive screening from the preschool and a new mHealth screening protocol. These will be compared against a benchmark audiometric assessment to determine sensitivity and specificity. Communities will then be randomized to continue the current primary care referral process or to adopt telemedicine referral. The primary outcome will be time to ICD-10 ear/hearing diagnosis. Secondary outcomes will include sensitivity and specificity of screening protocols and prevalence of hearing loss. The goal of this study is to evaluate the optimal screening and referral strategy for preschool children in rural Alaska.
|Condition or disease||Intervention/treatment||Phase|
|Hearing Loss||Other: Current Primary Care Referral Process Other: Telemedicine Referral Process||Not Applicable|
|Study Type :||Interventional (Clinical Trial)|
|Actual Enrollment :||155 participants|
|Intervention Model:||Parallel Assignment|
|Masking:||Single (Outcomes Assessor)|
|Masking Description:||The randomization assignments will be kept confidential within the study team until hearing screening day, when masking the referral process assignment to participants will no longer be possible. All outcome assessors, including audiologists and ear, nose, and throat (ENT) surgeons reading telemedicine consults within the Alaska Native healthcare system and study team members performing medical record abstraction, will be masked to intervention allocation throughout the trial. Study team members who read telemedicine consults as a part of their clinical responsibilities will abstain from reading any study-related consults. The results of the preschool screen, mHealth screen, and audiometric assessments will also be masked, such that study team members performing the mHealth screen or audiometric assessment will be masked to the other results.|
|Primary Purpose:||Health Services Research|
|Official Title:||Addressing Early Childhood Hearing Loss in Rural Alaska: A Community Randomized Trial|
|Actual Study Start Date :||September 7, 2018|
|Actual Primary Completion Date :||February 21, 2020|
|Actual Study Completion Date :||February 21, 2020|
Active Comparator: Current Primary Care Referral Process
In communities randomized to the current primary care process, families will be notified if their children refer hearing screening in exactly the same method each preschool had been using previously. This process involves a letter home to the parents, either sent with the child or by mail, requesting that the parent/caregiver bring the child to village health clinic for an evaluation. Per current practice, most preschools also give the list of referred children to the Norton Sound Audiology Department, whose staff then reaches out to families to schedule appointments during the next available audiology clinic.
Other: Current Primary Care Referral Process
Children who refer hearing screening will receive the same referral method each preschool had been using previously. This process involves a letter home to the parents, either sent with the child or by mail, requesting that the parent/caregiver bring the child to village health clinic for an evaluation.
Experimental: Expedited Telemedicine Referral
In communities randomized to the expedited telemedicine intervention, parents of children who screen positive will receive a phone call from the school or the clinic on the day of screening notifying them of the day and time of their child's telemedicine consultation appointment. Appointments will be made with community health aides (CHAs) who have dedicated time blocked off to perform telemedicine consults. Participating children who refer screening will be transported to clinic for their appointment with adult chaperones. Parent participation will be required unless parents direct otherwise. Nonparticipating children in communities assigned to the expedited telemedicine intervention arm will receive standard referral following the current school primary care referral process.
Other: Telemedicine Referral Process
In communities randomized to the expedited telemedicine intervention, parents of children who refer hearing screening will receive a phone call from the school or the clinic on the day of screening notifying them of the day and time of their child's telemedicine consultation appointment. Appointments will be made with community health aides (CHAs) who have dedicated time blocked off to perform telemedicine consults. Participating children who refer screening will be transported to clinic for their appointment with adult chaperones. Parent participation will be required unless parents direct otherwise. Nonparticipating children in communities assigned to the expedited telemedicine intervention arm will receive standard referral following the current school primary care referral process.
- Time to diagnosis [ Time Frame: From date of screening to date of ICD-10 ear/hearing diagnosis, measured in days, up to 9 months from date of screening ]Comparing time to International Classification of Disease, Tenth Edition (ICD-10) ear/hearing diagnosis from date of screening between intervention and active comparator
- Sensitivity and specificity of screening protocols [ Time Frame: Cross-sectional comparison of concurrent mHealth screening protocol and current preschool hearing screening to audiometric assessment, measured once in the 2018-2019 academic year, all communities combined ]School and mobile health (mHealth) screening to audiometric assessment, all measured on the same day in Baseline before intervention
- Prevalence of hearing loss [ Time Frame: Baseline before intervention ]Estimating baseline prevalence of hearing loss in preschool children using audiometric assessments, all communities combined
To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contact information provided by the sponsor.
Please refer to this study by its ClinicalTrials.gov identifier (NCT number): NCT03662256
|United States, Alaska|
|Norton Sound Health Corporation|
|Nome, Alaska, United States, 99762|