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Preschool vision and hearing pilot program highly effective

Yale University : 16 June, 2005  (New Product)
A pilot program to screen children in preschool for vision and hearing problems demonstrated an effective method for early detection of health problems that influence children's development and learning, according to a published study by Yale School of Nursing faculty.
A total of 181 preschool children participated in the screenings. About three–quarters were age four and older. Parents of the children said 75 percent had never had an objective vision screening, and 73.5 percent had never been checked objectively for hearing loss although almost all were linked to primary care services.

The pilot program was developed by faculty at Yale School of Nursing in collaboration with the New Haven Board of Education to help close the gap between services delivered and program requirements of the Connecticut State School Readiness Initiative, which mandates evidence of preschool hearing and vision screening.

'Vision and hearing screening of preschool children is challenging and often unsuccessful in primary care practices because of the time it takes and the young ages of the children,' said Angela Crowley, associate professor and first author of the study. 'The strengths of this project included a parent history to determine appropriate timing for the screening, preliminary practice sessions by preschool teachers, instruments appropriate for young children, a familiar environment, and rescreening to reduce the number of unnecessary referrals.'

Graduate Entry Program Nursing students conducted the screening as part of their pediatric clinical rotation under the supervision of faculty. All screening and rescreening data were sent to the children's primary care providers to ensure continuity of care and health records.

Twenty–eight of the children tested had abnormal vision screening results, and, of the 20 who were re–screened, nine had abnormal results. A total of 38 children had abnormal results on the hearing tests. Three were immediately referred to their primary care providers because of extensive hearing loss. The remaining children were re–screened and 17 were referred to their primary care provider.

For those without health insurance, information about HUSKY, the Connecticut state children's health insurance program, was given to parents.

Linda Pellico, assistant professor and co–author of the study, said the pilot program was a good example of Yale School of Nursing benefiting the New Haven community. 'This project represented an opportunity for nursing students to identify unmet health care needs, to plan and implement preventive health care services, and to know their community,' she said.
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