Economic Evaluations of Childhood Hearing Loss Screening Programmes: A Systematic Review and Critique

Rajan Sharma, Yuanyuan Gu, Theresa Ching, Vivienne Marnane, Bonny Parkinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Permanent childhood hearing loss is one of the most common birth conditions associated with speech and language delay. A hearing screening can result in early detection and intervention for hearing loss.

To update and expand previous systematic reviews of economic evaluations of childhood hearing screening strategies, and explore the methodological differences.

Data Sources
MEDLINE, Embase, the Cochrane database, National Health Services Economic Evaluation Database (NHS EED), the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) database, and Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health’s (CADTH) Grey matters.

Study Eligibility Criteria, Participants and Interventions
Economic evaluations reporting costs and outcomes for both the intervention and comparator arms related to childhood hearing screening strategies.

Thirty evaluations (from 29 articles) were included for review. Several methodological issues were identified, including: few evaluations reported outcomes in terms of quality-adjusted life years (QALYs); none estimated utilities directly from surveying children; none included disutilities and costs associated with adverse events; few included costs and outcomes that differed by severity; few included long-term estimates; none considered acquired hearing loss; some did not present incremental results; and few conducted comprehensive univariate or probabilistic sensitivity analysis. Evaluations published post-2011 were more likely to report QALYs and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) as outcome measures, include long-term treatment and productivity costs, and present incremental results.

We were unable to access the economic models and, although we employed an extensive search strategy, potentially not all relevant economic evaluations were identified.

Conclusions and Implications
Most economic evaluations concluded that childhood hearing screening is value for money. However, there were significant methodological limitations with the evaluations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331–357
Number of pages27
JournalApplied Health Economics and Health Policy
Issue number3
Early online date25 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019

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