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Hearing-impaired children in the United Kingdom, II: Cochlear implantation and the cost of compulsory education

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Publication details

JournalEar & Hearing
DatePublished - Apr 2006
Issue number2
Number of pages21
Pages (from-to)187-207
Original languageEnglish


Objective: The objective of this study was to estimate the impact of cochlear implantation on the cost of compulsory education of hearing-impaired children in the United Kingdom.

Study Design: In a cross-sectional survey, teachers were asked to report the school placement of, and amount of support provided to, a representative sample of hearing-impaired children. Costs of school placement were obtained from published sources. Costs of support were calculated from a survey of 11 special education services. The annual education cost (in Euros at 2001/2002 levels) of each child was calculated by summing the placement and support costs. Linear regression analyses calculated the association between annual education cost and possession of an implant while controlling nine other variables: average (unaided, preoperative) hearing level (AHL), age at onset of hearing impairment, age, gender, the number of additional disabilities, parental occupational skill level, ethnicity, parental hearing status, and academic achievement.

Results: Data were received for 2241 children, 383 of whom had cochlear implants. Mean annual education cost ranged from euro15,745 for children with moderate hearing impairments to euro30,071 for nonimplanted children with profound hearing impairments and was euro28,058 for implanted children. A lower annual education cost was associated with a more favorable AHL, a later age at the onset of hearing impairment, female gender, a younger age, fewer additional disabilities, and a higher level of academic achievement. When these variables were controlled, costs were lower on average for implanted compared with nonimplanted children for the subset of children whose ABLs exceeded III dB. At the mean A1HL of the implanted children (115 dB), implantation was associated with a reduction of euro3105 (95% confidence interval, euro1105 to euro5106) in annual education costs.

Conclusions: Pediatric cochlear implantation is sufficiently effective to influence resource-allocation decisions in the education sector. The health-service cost of implantation is partly offset by savings in the cost of education. These savings occur without detriment to academic achievements.

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