Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Theresa Hnath-Chisolm, chair

Committee Member

Janet Stockard

Committee Member

Susan Spirakis


hearing screening, newborn, ethnicity


The difference in otoacoustic emission (OAE) hearing screening failure rates as a function of ethnic category was investigated in a population of newborns at Tampa General Hospital, Tampa, Florida. Clinical observation led to a concern that due to a higher incidence of outer and middle ear dysfunction in Hispanic newborns and children, screening could result in disparate failure rates, with a larger number of these infants requiring further testing. This result would warrant changes in current protocols, as well as screener training,and parent counseling practices.

Between January and July of 2000, 1407 newborns were tested utilizing distortion product otoacoustic emission screening protocols. Of those infants,only 68 failed, yielding a higher than average overall program referral rate of 5%. It is hypothesized that since later reported referral rates for this program fall below 1%, the individuals performing the screenings had not yet become experienced enough to yield low refer rates. In addition, initial screens are not repeated in this program due to staffing and funding issues, which may contribute to higher than average fail rates.

More important, however, results indicated that there is indeed a difference in failure rates as a function of ethnicity, with a greater proportion of Hispanic and African-American and "Other" newborn referrals that Caucasian or Asian newborns. This difference, however, was not significantly reliable. It is hypothesized that this difference may be the result of a generally lower socioeconomic status and access to medical care within urban minority populations in Hillsborough County, Florida. Implications are discussed.