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Research During the COVID-19 Pandemic


Wednesday, June 3, 2020

​​​Life-changing research doesn't stop during a pandemic. For more than 40 years, Boys Town National Research Hospital has been conducting research to improve lives. Our mission is to change the way America cares for children and families. Below are some of the ways we are continuing our mission during these unprecedented times.

Continuing to Train and Innovate

Each year, Boys Town Hospital selects audiology student investigators to participate in a summer research traineeship. This program is designed to give formal research experience through a mix of clinical and research audiology experiences, presentations, and scientific group discussions. This summer we will still host our students, and they will be challenged to find new ways to answer questions about hearing and speech recognition through virtual tools.

Research Forging Ahead

With the current pause in inviting research volunteers to come to our laboratories to participate in studies, our researchers have moved to online interviews, questionnaires and mobile applications for testing. Some studies are even collecting hair or other biological samples, which can be done with simple instructions through the mail, for needed data.

Researching Health Outcomes of the Pandemic

Our behavioral health scientists regularly investigate brain development as well as asking how traumatic experiences such as abuse and neglect affect neural, cognitive​, and social development. Unfortunately, this COVID-19 pandemic has presented a societal trauma on a very large scale, including impacts on our youth who have experienced weeks of disruption to their school, daily routines and social lives.

Additionally, new precautions for wearing masks and social distancing may have an even greater impact on children with hearing and communications difficulties. These kids rely more than others on facial expressions to get the full meaning of speech. Our hearing and language experts are looking at how this new reality is affecting them and way we might be able to help.

Our researchers are working with our youth care programs to monitor how these large-scale disruptions in daily life, and the accompanying stress, are affecting treatment progress and outcomes. The research team is uniquely positioned to examine the effects of these changes on children and adolescents through our community relationships with families and care providers. Over the coming months, these researchers will be helping the nation understand how the isolation, change in routines, and the stress of the pandemic have affected our youth.​

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