This document reports on a study to investigate whether the use of swimming pools by school-age Indigenous children in remote semi-arid communities in central Australia results in the reduction and possible prevention of conductive hearing loss related to otitis media (OM) in these children.
Between 2009 - 2011, multiple clinical assessments of ear health and hearing - including Ear, nose and throat (ENT) diagnoses - were conducted on 813 school age children, which allow comparison of the results for children living in the four Anangu communities with a swimming pool compared to those living in the six communities without a pool. Many children were assessed on multiple occasions with 46% of the children being assessed on at least three of the possible six occasions over the three year study period (2107 child assessments in total).
The study's results demonstrate that access to swimming pools does not result in improvement in any of three principal measured indices of hearing or ear health. Additionally, in relation to the policy of 'no school, no pool', there is no evidence that access to a swimming pool results in improved school attendance. Further, results show previously undescribed seasonal differences in the prevalence of eardrum perforations in these Indigenous populations. Other results show significant associations between dry eardrum perforation and hearing loss and age.
This research report was funded by the Hearing Loss Prevention Program of the Department of Health and Ageing and conducted by Flinders University and its collaborating partner, the Anangu Education Service of the South Australian (SA) Department of Education and Child Development.
Abstract adapted from Flinders University
The updated Recommendations for clinical care guidelines on the management of otitis media in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations builds on the 2001 guidelines using recent research and an explicit search and critical appraisal of the medical literature between 2001 and 2010. The original guidelines were directly linked to the Systematic review of existing evidence and primary care guidelines on the management of otitis media in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.
The guidelines are intended for use by health care professionals who work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations. This includes Aboriginal health workers, Aboriginal ear health workers, primary care and specialist physicians, nurses, remote nurses and nurse practitioners, audiologists, audiometrists, speech therapists, and child development specialists (including advisory visiting teachers and teachers of the deaf).
The clinical care guidelines are published by Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health (OATSIH) and were prepared by the Darwin Otitis Guidelines Group in collaboration with the OATSIH Otitis Media Technical Advisory Group. They are designed to facilitate the delivery of comprehensive, effective and appropriate ear health programs.
The clinical care guidelines are divided into sections: prevention, diagnosis, prognosis, medical management, audiological management of associated hearing loss, practical considerations in health care delivery, and prioritisation of primary health care services in different settings. They aim to offer a series of clear recommendations for the clinical care of Indigenous Australians that are:
The sources of information used include:
The following separate resources are also included:
Abstract adapted from Recommendations for clinical care guidelines on the management of otitis media in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations
This report is part of the commitment from the Queensland Government to reduce the high levels of ear disease among Indigenous Queensland children and Close the gap in ear health.
Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract