Department of Audiology Faculty Articles


Analysis of Health Disparities in the Screening and Diagnosis of Hearing Loss: Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Hearing Screening Follow-Up Survey


0000-0001-6770-4377, 0000-0001-8667-7618, 0000-0002-1382-6069







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American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

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Purpose: The purpose of this study was to (a) provide introductory literature regarding cultural constructs, health disparities, and social determinants of health (SDoH); (b) summarize the literature regarding the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Hearing Screening Follow-Up Survey (HSFS) data; (c) explore the CDC EHDI HSFS data regarding the contribution of maternal demographics to loss-to-follow-up/loss-to-documentation (LTF/D) between hearing screening and audiologic diagnosis for 2016, 2017, and 2018; and (d) examine these health disparities within the context of potential ethnoracial biases.

Method: This is a comprehensive narrative literature review of cultural constructs, hearing health disparities, and SDoH as they relate to the CDC EHDI HSFS data. We explore the maternal demographic data reported on the CDC EHDI website and report disparities for maternal age, education, ethnicity, and race for 2016, 2017, and 2018. We focus on LTF/D for screening and diagnosis within the context of racial and cultural bias.

Results: A literature review demonstrates the increase in quality of the CDC EHDI HSFS data over the past 2 decades. LTF/D rates for hearing screening and audiologic diagnostic testing have improved from higher than 60% to current rates of less than 30%. Comparisons of diagnostic completion rates reported on the CDC website for the EHDI HSFS 2016, 2017, and 2018 data show trends for maternal age, education, and race, but not for ethnicity. Trends were defined as changes more than 10% for variables averaged over a 3-year period (2016–2018).

Conclusions: Although there have been significant improvements in LTF/D over the past 2 decades, there continue to be opportunities for further improvement. Beyond neonatal screening, delays continue to be reported in the diagnosis of young children with hearing loss. Notwithstanding the extraordinarily diverse families within the United States, the imperative is to minimize such delays so that all children with hearing loss can, at the very least, have auditory accessibility to spoken language by 3 months of age. Conscious awareness is essential before developing a potentially effective plan of action that might remediate the problem.


Communication Sciences and Disorders | Medicine and Health Sciences | Speech and Hearing Science | Speech Pathology and Audiology


audiologic diagnosis, cultural bias, health disparities, hearing screening, racial bias, social determinants of health

MeSH Subject Heading

Child Preschool Child, Deafness, Follow-Up Studies, Hearing, Hearing Loss / diagnosis, Hearing Loss / epidemiology, Hearing Tests, Humans, Newborn Infant, Neonatal Screening, United States

Peer Reviewed