Knowledge, attitude and management of hearing screening in children among family physicians in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

PLoS One. 2021 Aug 31;16(8):e0256647. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0256647. eCollection 2021.


Background: Early detection and management of hearing loss are important to develop ordinary speaking language and academic skills during childhood. Lack of knowledge by either parents or health care providers could hinder the process of hearing loss diagnosis, such that the intervention will be less effective. There is little evidence about the knowledge and practice of family physicians regarding hearing screening in Saudi Arabia and worldwide.

Objectives: This study aimed to assess family physicians' knowledge, attitudes, and practices related to hearing loss in children. This in turn will help policy makers and educational institutions to establish and promote a program concerned with screening, diagnosis and intervention of paediatric hearing loss.

Methods: A cross-sectional descriptive study enrolled 133 family physicians working at primary health centres in Saudi Arabia from March 2020 to September 2020. A self-reported questionnaire was used to assess the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of family physicians concerning hearing loss in children.

Results: The majority of the participants were working under the umbrella of the Ministry of Health and around half of them did not screen any child for hearing loss. Despite that, 91.7% indicated the importance of neonatal hearing screening, 70.7% indicate infant candidacy for cochlear implant and only 33.1% know about the existence of the early hearing detection and intervention (EHDI) governmental program in kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Participants were able to identify factors associated with hearing loss such as a family history of hearing loss (85.6%), meningitis (75%) and craniofacial anomalies (51.5%). The most frequent specialists for patient referrals were ear nose and throat ENT (75.2%) and audiologists (67.7%).

Conclusion: This study shows that family physicians have good general background about the benefits of EHDI programs and the management of hearing loss in the paediatric population. However, it also indicated insufficient knowledge in other domains of hearing loss, including assessments and the presence of the EHDI governmental program in KSA. Further actions on the involvement of family physicians in the process of neonatal hearing screening, diagnosis and intervention for hearing impairment are needed.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Child
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Hearing Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Hearing Tests
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians, Family / psychology
  • Physicians, Family / statistics & numerical data*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data
  • Saudi Arabia

Grants and funding

The authors received no specific funding for this work.