Abstract: Objective Otitis media resulting in conductive hearing loss is a major health issue for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, which can also lead to the child developing spatial processing disorder (SPD). This study examined the prevalence of hearing loss and deficits in speech understanding in noise, including SPD, in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from schools varying in remoteness and socio-educational advantage. Method 288 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 4–14 years from three schools varying in remoteness and socio-educational advantage completed audiological assessment and the Listening in Spatialized Noise – Sentences test to assess for hearing loss and SPD. Children also completed Sound Scouts, a self-administered tablet-based hearing test which screens for these deficits. The prevalence of hearing issues was compared to what is expected from a typical population. Results The proportion of children with hearing problems was related to the school's socio-educational advantage, with higher proportions in schools with a lower socio-educational advantage. Proportions of children with speech-in-noise deficits (including SPD) was related to the remoteness of the school, with higher proportions in schools that were more remote. Conclusions The prevalence of hearing loss and SPD is much higher in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children than described for non-Aboriginal populations, and is related to the socio-educational advantage or remoteness of the school. Resources are needed to reduce the incidence of hearing loss and health disparity in Aboriginal communities, especially those in remote areas with lower socio-educational advantages.
Mealings, Kiri, Harkus, Samantha, Hwang, Jennifer, Fragoso, Jacinto, Chung, King, Dillon, Harvey, 2020, Hearing loss and speech understanding in noise in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from locations varying in remoteness and socio-educational advantage, Volume:129, Journal Article, viewed 16 August 2022, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=16390.