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 Research Grant Outcomes of Children with Hearing Loss


Research Grant: Outcomes of Children with Hearing Loss

Mary Pat Moeller, Ph.D.​
Director, Center for Childhood Deafness






We’re studying children who are hard of hearing. Those are children who have some residual hearing and wear hearing aids. That’s in contrast to children who are totally deaf.

 We are collaborating with the University of Iowa and the University of North Carolina to study the outcomes of these hard of hearing children.

“Listen, a lady went into the supermarket”

There is a major gap in research on hard of hearing children. The largest study ever done in the U.S. was in the 1980s and it only had 40 children. In contrast to our study that’s looking at 300 children from 17 different states. We are comparing them to children with normal hearing; there are about 115 of those children in the study.

Each time the children come in we measure their hearing, to verify that there have been no changes in their hearing status. Also, we measure their hearing aids to make sure they are well functioning and providing the best benefit possible.

“And what is the lady doing?....Drinking”

We’ll be assessing her speech and language skills. There we are trying to make sure she is on par with her age mates in terms of concepts that she knows. Vocabulary that she understands, how she produces sentences and how clear her speech is.

We’re hoping that we can identify children, who are at risk for problems, at much earlier ages than we did in the past. That allows you to alter what you do with those children so they will be more successful.

Here at Boys Town a number of research projects are going on. Our work is particularly focused on helping children and families. That’s an important mission. We want children to do their best so that they will thrive throughout their lifetime.

The Outcomes of Children with Hearing Loss (OCHL) is a five-year study designed to understand factors that influence the outcomes of children who are hard of hearing. This multi-center longitudinal study addresses major gaps in research related to young children who wear hearing aids. Research collaborators at University of Iowa, Boys Town National Research Hospital, and the University of North Carolina are following about 300 hard of hearing children along with a comparison group of children with typical hearing. This work is supported by a grant from the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD-DC009560).