Improving support for parents of children with hearing loss: Provider training on use of targeted communication strategies

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Journal of the American Academy of Audiology



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Background: When proper protocols are followed, children who are identified with a permanent hearing loss early in life have opportunities to develop language on par with their typical hearing peers. Young children with hearing loss are dependent on their parents to manage intervention during early years critical to their development, and parents' ability to effectively integrate recommendations in daily life is foundational for intervention success. Audiologists and early intervention professionals not only need to provide current evidence-based services, but also must address parents' emotional and learning needs related to their child's hearing loss.

Purpose: This study explored practice patterns related to education and support provided to parents of children with hearing loss and the influence of an in-service training on provider attitudes.

Research design: This study used a prepost design with a self-report questionnaire to identify practice patterns related to communication skills and support used by providers when working with parents of children with hearing loss.

Study sample: A total of 45 participants (21 professionals and 24 graduate students) currently working with children completed the pretraining questionnaire, and 29 participants (13 professionals and 16 graduate students) completed the postquestionnaire.

Data collection and analysis: Data were collected using an online questionnaire before the training and 1 mo after training. Descriptive analyses were done to identify trends, and paired-samples t-tests were used to determine changes pretraining to posttraining.

Results: Findings revealed that professionals most frequently teach skills to mothers (91%) and infrequently teach skills to fathers (19%) and other caregivers (10%). Professionals reported frequently collaborating with other intervention providers (76%) and infrequently collaborating with primary care physicians (19%). One-third of the professionals reported addressing symptoms of depression and anxiety as an interfering factor with the ability to implement management recommendations. For providers who completed both the prequestionnaires and postquestionnaires, an increase in confidence was reported for several areas of communication; however, as expected, practices remained similar, and all of the practicing professionals and 94% of the graduate students indicated a desire for more training on how to be effective in supporting parents with implementing intervention recommendations.

Conclusions: Providers do not necessarily use effective methods of communication, needed to adequately help parents, requiring additional focused training to change how providers interact with parents and how support is provided.