Otitis Media With Effusion: Experiences of Children With Cleft Palate and Their Parents

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To explore the views of children with cleft palate and their parents about daily life with otitis media with effusion and associated hearing loss.


A qualitative study. Semistructured interviews were used to collect data from parents. Participatory techniques, including activities on a tablet computer, were used to collect data from children. Framework analysis was applied to interview transcripts.


Two English cleft units.


A purposive sample of parents of 37 children aged 0 to 11 years with experience of otitis media with effusion. Their children also took part if aged 6 to 11 years (n = 22).


Themes related to the following: (1) emotions (frustration, anger, sadness, happiness, anxiety), (2) educational experiences (struggling at school, having to sit at the front of the class, requiring extra support, missing lessons for appointments or due to ear infections), (3) social interactions (isolation, communication, reliance on siblings, participation in activities).


A number of areas of interviewees’ everyday life were affected by the presence of otitis media with effusion. Parents may need to be forewarned about the possible ongoing nature of this condition and its impact on a child's social and emotional experiences. Children may also benefit from age-appropriate information about otitis media with effusion and its treatment, including information on hearing tests, to help reduce any anxiety.

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