The present study examined differences in health-related quality of life (HRQoL) between deaf children with cochlear implants (CI) with and without developmental disabilities (DD) and differences across HRQoL domains within both groups of children.Methods:
Ninety-two parents of children with CI aged 3–7 years participated in this cross-sectional study. Of these children, 43 had DD (i.e., CI-DD group) and 49 had no DD or chronic illness, demonstrating overall typical development (i.e., CI-TD group). Parents of children in both groups completed the KINDLR, a generic HRQoL questionnaire. Parents also provided anecdotal comments to open-ended questions, and parent comments were evaluated on a CI benefits scale to assess parent-perceived benefits of CI for the deaf children with and without disabilities.Results:
Children in the CI-DD group had significantly lower HRQoL compared to children in the CI-TD group, including lower scores on the self-esteem, friend, school, and family HRQoL subscales. No significant differences among groups were found on the physical well-being and emotional well-being subscales. For the CI-TD group, age at implantation correlated negatively with self-esteem and school HRQoL subscales. In the CI-DD group, children’s current age correlated negatively with family and with the total HRQoL scores. Parent anecdotal comments and scores on the CI-benefits scale indicated strong parent perceptions of benefits of implantation for children in both groups.Conclusion:
Based on parents’ proxy report, findings suggest that having DD affects multiple domains of HRQoL among young children with CIs above and beyond that of the CI itself. Parents of deaf children with DD may need greater support through the CI process and follow-up than parents of deaf children without DD.