Objective: Like most of the United States, school-based hearing screening in Pennsylvania focuses on low-frequency, conductive hearing losses typical for young children, rather than the high-frequency, noise-induced hearing loss more prevalent among adolescents. The objective of this study was to compare the sensitivity and specificity of current school hearing screening in Pennsylvania with hearing screening including high frequencies, designed to detect adolescent hearing loss. Setting: A single public high school. Methods: In the Autumn of 2011 the high-frequency screen was delivered alongside the Pennsylvania school screen for students in the 11th grade. Screening referrals and a subset of passes returned for "gold standard" testing with audiology in a sound treated booth, in order to determine the sensitivity and specificity of the screening tests. Results: Of 282 participants, five (2%) were referred on the Pennsylvania school screen, and 85 (30%) were referred on the high-frequency screen. Of the 48 who returned for gold standard testing with audiology, hearing loss was diagnosed in 9/48 (19%). Sensitivity of the Pennsylvania and high-frequency screens were 13% (95% confidence interval [CI] 0-53%) and 100% (95% CI 66-100%) respectively. Specificity of the Pennsylvania and high-frequency screens were 97% (95% CI 87-100%) and 49% (95% CI 32-65%) respectively. Conclusions: Current school hearing screens have low sensitivity for detection of adolescent hearing loss. Modifying schoolbased protocols may be warranted to best screen adolescents, and make optimal use of school nurse time and effort.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health Policy
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health