The use of telehealth services to facilitate audiological management for children: A scoping review and content analysis

S. M. Govender*, M. Mars

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Approximately 32 million children globally present with disabling hearing loss. Despite evidence describing the negative consequences of hearing loss, there is still a lack of hearing screening programmes in South Africa. Audiologists have been exploring the use of information and communication technologies (tele-audiology) to provide services to children and it is currently being evaluated to determine its feasibility. Aims: We aim to describe tele-audiology services conducted to facilitate audiological management for children in both the rural and urban context and to determine the strengths, challenges and clinical implications of such services. Methods: A scoping review was conducted by searching for peer-reviewed publications from five databases. Inclusion criteria and search strategies were outlined. Results: Of the 23 studies that met the inclusion criteria, reliability of automated testing was comparable to conventional testing; however, these studies were based primarily on screening programmes. Eight (35%) of the 23 papers were concordance studies evaluating feasibility and validity of tele-audiology systems when compared with conventional testing, while one study (4%) evaluated a tele-audiology service. A further four studies (17%) evaluated the feasibility of introducing telehealth methods to evaluate middle ear pathology. Tele-auditory brainstem response was investigated in three studies (13%) and another five (22%) used smartphone and/or iPad technology to screen hearing. Only two studies (9%) evaluated the feasibility of providing intervention through telehealth methods. All included studies demonstrated improved access to and coverage of rural areas. Services such as video otoscopy and synchronous (online) hearing testing in remote areas were successfully implemented. Challenges included lack of diagnostic studies, inadequate training of staff and the need to standardize protocols and procedures in order to ensure that tele-audiology services are provided in a standardized and valid manner. Conclusion: Tele-audiology services are feasible and can be useful in identifying auditory pathology for children in rural and remote areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)392-401
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Telemedicine and Telecare
Volume23
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017

Keywords

  • Synchronous
  • asynchronous
  • tele-audiology
  • telehealth

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