Effects of context on coping responses of parents in universal newborn hearing screening programs

Early identification of hearing loss in newborns is associated with improved cognitive, speech, language, and social-emotional outcomes. Yet a high proportion of parents withdraw from universal newborn hearing screening programs following the first screening, even if the screening indicates a need for further testing. This is thought to be due, in part, to parents’ anxiety and stress over the initial results. Brenda Poon is investigating how the screening program environment affects the way parents cope with the stress of discovering their newborn child may have hearing loss. Based on her findings, she hopes to recommend developing services in universal screening programs that are sensitive to parents’ emotional and coping responses at each stage of the screening. With improved services in place, parents may be less likely to withdraw their child from screening programs before the infant’s hearing status can be confirmed, allowing for earlier intervention.