Background: Several aspects of children's health and development are known from empirical studies to be associated with otitis media with effusion (OME; 'glue ear'). The 'diffuse image' has been an obstacle to defining a core set of impacts about which inter-profession and parent-professional communication can be effective.
Aims: The study quantifies similarities and differences in how the signs, symptoms, and developmental impact of OME are attributed and construed, between teachers, parents, and ear, nose, and throat (ENT)surgeons.
Sample: Convenience samples were achieved of 118 teachers and 154 parents of affected children; 178 ENT surgeons from a professional sampling frame (association membership) responded.
Method: Questionnaires elicited the perceived frequency and concern-value of over 30 manifestations of OME--the various signs, symptoms, and behaviours suggested by the literature. Factor scores derived on the combined sample were compared between respondent groups.
Results: Teachers assign high importance to education and language problems but, relative to parents, they accord lower importance to continuing hearing problems. Teachers and parents weighted behaviour and balance problems similarly, placing behaviour higher, but balance lower, than the ENT specialists did.
Conclusions: (1) A four-factor reduction of simple questionnaire items well defines the domains of impact of OME, and can express the ways in which views of impact differ between teachers, ENT specialists and parents.(2) Considerable differences of perspective exist between the groups examined. (3) In valuing a set of measured outcomes on actual children, or for other policy research, sets of weights are now available to represent the differing perspectives of parents and professionals (e.g. in testing robustness of a conclusion across differing stakeholder perspectives). (4) The research and development need in respect of teachers' involvement with OME could profitably play to existing strengths. This implies the systematic and structured acquisition and evaluation of teacher-provided impact information.