Parents of deaf children seeking hearing loss-related information on the internet: the Australian experience

J Deaf Stud Deaf Educ. 2007 Fall;12(4):518-29. doi: 10.1093/deafed/enm009. Epub 2007 Apr 24.


Parents whose children are diagnosed in an infant screening program are required to make some difficult choices about the management of the hearing loss at a time when they are emotionally vulnerable. They are required to evaluate information and outcomes regarding issues such as technology for hearing impairment, communication options, education, and rehabilitation. The World Wide Web has become an important resource of health information for both health consumers and practitioners. The ability to obtain accurate health information online quickly, conveniently, and privately provides opportunity to make informed decisions. However, little is known about the level of the use of the Internet to acquire health information, particularly in the case of parents of deaf children seeking information. This study confirms that searches for health information on the Internet are conducted primarily by mothers. In the Australian context, there is minimal online information available to families beyond early intervention. Information on education issues, mental health, and deafness or the day-to-day management of a child or adolescent with a hearing loss are neglected topics on Web sites. This study also revealed that the majority of respondents had never visited HealthInsite or Medline Plus, two gateway sites for reliable consumer health information, although the information on these sites is more generic in nature and unlikely to assist parents to make informed choices on complex issues such as communication options or education. However, the study suggested that half the parents have talked to their doctor or hearing professional about information they found on the Internet, which is an encouraging tendency.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Appetitive Behavior*
  • Australia
  • Child
  • Child Rearing
  • Child, Preschool
  • Communication
  • Consumer Health Information*
  • Deafness / physiopathology
  • Deafness / psychology*
  • Deafness / rehabilitation*
  • Education
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Internet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Mothers / statistics & numerical data
  • Parents / psychology*