The prevalence of ear disease and hearing loss is greater for Indigenous children than for their non-Indigenous counterparts. In 2009, we established a mobile ear-screening service in South Burnett, in which an Indigenous Health Worker (IHW) assesses children at school and shares results by telemedicine with ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists, who in turn provide review and biannual surgical outreach to the community. We reviewed service data for the first six years of the service (Jan 2009-Dec 2014), to calculate: total number of completed assessments; total number of patients failing at least one screening test; and overall proportion of failed screening assessments per annum. Subgroup analysis was conducted by usual home postcode. The service has provided 5539 screening assessments. The mean screening failure rate for children outside of postcode 4605 (Cherbourg/Murgon area) was 22% (range 17-29%) and 38% for children living inside postcode 4605 (range 34-41%). While screening activity has increased by more than 50% since 2009, there has been a slight reduction in the proportion of children failing assessment, with the mean failure rate changing from 33% in 2009 to 26% in 2014. These early results suggest that community-based screening, integrated with specialist ENT services may improve ear and hearing health.
Keywords: Ear health monitoring; health screening service; telemedicine.
© The Author(s) 2015.