Theses (published elsewhere)

The reach and efficacy of ear health programs in primary school children in the Goldfields South East Health region

Posted on: 1 April, 2008
Issue: Vol 8 No 2, April 2008 - June 2008
Related to Ear health Western Australia

Doyle JE (2007)
The reach and efficacy of ear health programs in primary school children in the Goldfields South East Health region.
Unpublished Master of Rural Health thesis, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria

This study explored health and education professionals’ perceptions of the health benefits of different ear health programs used in lower primary school classes (kindergarten to year three) in two district education areas of the Goldfields South East (GSE) Health Region. These programs included: audiometry, otoscopy, Breathe Blow Cough (BBC) program, ear toilet and tissue spearing. The study also explored program coordination approaches and evaluation methods and the barriers to program implementation.

A qualitative self-administered questionnaire was distributed to a selection of schools and health workers in the GSE area. Responses were received from 14 of the 23 postcodes (61%) in the GSE area, with 62 questionnaires (19.4%) returned from a total of 318.

Teachers, Community Health Nurses (CHN) and Aboriginal Health Workers (AHW) identified that all ear health programs were beneficial to the students. They reported physical health benefits such as reduced ear infections, early detection of ear infections and improved hearing. Behavioural benefits were also reported such as an improved ability of children to stay focused, alert and attentive in the classroom. Barriers to implementing the programs included: gaining consent from and involving parents/carers, student transience and attendance, time to implement and conduct the programs and human and physical resources. Evaluation methods used varied from no evaluation for the BBC and tissue spearing programs to limited data collection for audiometry, otoscopy and ear toilet programs.

This study identified that ear health programs are perceived by teachers, CHNs and AHWs to have both health and behavioural benefits for children. Programs appeared to be more successful when conducted in a collaborative way. Recommendations to improve the outcomes of programs include developing systems to identify and follow-up at-risk children, improving access to specialists, increasing collaboration between health workers and educating staff and families. A more comprehensive approach to evaluation of programs is also required.

View thesis (PDF – 2.44MB – large file warning!)

Abstract and thesis reproduced with the permission of the author.

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