Hearing mother's inceptions and perceptions of systems to detect congenital hearing loss in their infants and young children prior to the fitting of a cochlear implant
AuthorMarchbank, Alison M.
AffiliationMelbourne Graduate School of Education
Document TypePhD thesis
CitationsMarchbank, A. M. (2010). Hearing mother's inceptions and perceptions of systems to detect congenital hearing loss in their infants and young children prior to the fitting of a cochlear implant. PhD thesis, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne.
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2010 Dr. Alison M. Marchbank
Effective hearing screening has long been a goal of public healthcare systems in order to prevent the effects that a late diagnosis of permanent hearing loss may have on the developing child. For most hearing families, who typically have no previous experience of deafness, a diagnosis of hearing loss in their baby or young child is an unexpected life event. Two sets of data were collected. First, from a questionnaire designed to locate parents who wished to participate in the study and establish a timeline for their individual stories of events in the diagnostic process. Mothers completed the questionnaires. Two sample groups of mothers were identified, babies who were not screened at birth (non-NHSP), from the UK (n=6) and Australia (n=12) and babies who had their hearing screened before leaving hospital in Australia (n=6) A newborn hearing screen correctly identified deafness in three of the NHSP babies. Results revealed that mothers in the non-NHSP group were most likely to suspect their own child’s hearing problem and delays were evident before a diagnosis occurred. A second set of data was collected from all the mothers (n=24) who discussed their experiences of diagnosis and the time immediately after. A narrative approach to data collection allowed the mothers the freedom to foreground the experiences and events that were most important to them and they told their stories in personal ways. The data were collected at different times, starting at the period in the UK when the distraction test was the population screening tool of choice and then following the implementation of newborn hearing screening programmes in selected birth hospitals in Australia. Most of these mothers were concerned about their child’s hearing before any routine hearing screen or developmental checking occurred. For these mothers the confirmation process was often lengthy and complex, especially if it was associated with otitis media (“glue ear”). Reassurance and “wait and see” were common professional responses to early concern. For the undetected babies in the NHSP group, mothers needed to raise their concern about hearing in ways similar to those mothers in the non-NHSP group, although much later. Mothers, in general, expected that a hearing problem could be “fixed”. As they came to each consultation or hearing assessment event, there was an expectation for them to understand new vocabulary generated by different tests and technologies that was outside their experience. They reported that they often left test situations feeling confused after results were inadequately explained or wrongly interpreted. The findings reveal that diagnostic practitioners were constricted by the discourse of their own technology or pedagogy and were frequently unresponsive to a mother’s perspective of her child’s hearing problem. Exemplary professional practice is documented and relates to the quality of the relationship between a mother and a professional, rather than the discursive practice constructed by tools and technology. This current phenomenological study complements recent research studies to suggest that the experiences of mothers could make a valuable contribution to future evaluations of newborn hearing screening programmes when taken together with measures of developmental gain.
Keywordshearing screening; congenital deafness; mothers; cochlear implants
- Click on "Export Reference in RIS Format" and choose "open with... Endnote".
- Click on "Export Reference in RIS Format". Login to Refworks, go to References => Import References