Disparities in access to pediatric hearing health care

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Abstract

Purpose of review

There are significant disparities in care facing children with hearing loss. The objective of this review is to assess the current disparities in pediatric hearing healthcare delivery, describe the barriers of efficient and effective pediatric hearing health care, and explore the innovations to improve pediatric hearing healthcare delivery.

Recent findings

Children with hearing loss from certain geographic regions or ethnic background are significantly delayed in diagnosis and treatment. Multiple patient characteristics (presentation of hearing loss), parental factors (insurance status, socioeconomic status, educational status, and travel distance to providers), and provider barriers (specialist shortage and primary care provider challenges) prevent the delivery of timely hearing health care. Advances, such as improved screening programs and the expansion of care through remote services, may help to ameliorate these disparities.

Summary

Timely identification and treatment of pediatric hearing loss is critical to prevent lifelong language complications. Children from vulnerable populations, such as rural residents, face significant disparities in care. Careful assessment of these barriers and implementation of culturally acceptable interventions are paramount to maximize communication outcomes of children with hearing loss.

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