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Children with Hearing Impairment in Victoria Outcome Study CHIVOS

  • About CHIVOS

    The Children with Hearing Impairment in Victoria Outcomes Study (CHIVOS) has followed a group of children with hearing loss from their early primary school years to early adulthood. The study gathered information from the participants and their parents/guardians via assessments and questionnaires about language, school, mental health and their overall wellbeing. This information is helping to answer important questions about the true impact of hearing loss on the lives of children and families.

    Information from CHIVOS participants was first gathered in 1999-2000 when the children were 7-8 years old. A second wave of information was collected when these children began secondary school, in 2004-6. Information was collected a third time in 2010-11, when participants were17-19 years old.

    Why is CHIVOS important?

    CHIVOS can help us understand why some children with a hearing loss do so well, while others experience more difficulties. The information gathered could improve interventions and ultimately the lives of children with hearing loss.

    CHIVOS is different from other hearing studies in several important ways:

    • Participants have been followed from early childhood right through to young adulthood.
    • Participants come from across Victoria - not from any one hearing service or local area.
    • It includes all levels of hearing loss, from mild to profound.

    Population studies like CHIVOS can help us understand:

    • The true impacts of hearing loss.
    • Why some young people do well, while others have more difficulty keeping up with hearing children.
    • If new approaches (like universal newborn hearing screening (e.g. the Victorian Infant Hearing Screening Program) really do improve outcomes over time.

    Who's involved in CHIVOS?

    CHIVOS participants were:

    • Born between January 1991 and July 1993 inVictoria, Australia.  
    • Fitted with hearing aids by 4.5 years old.
    • Diagnosed with bilateral congenital hearing impairment that ranged from slight to profound.

    Participants were recruited via Australian Hearing, a national, government-funded organisation responsible for all paediatric hearing aid fittings.

    What have we learned from CHIVOS so far?

    At 7-8 years old

    CHIVOS children were physically healthy but, on average, they had lower language, vocabulary and reading skills than their hearing peers.

    At 12-14 years old

    Some CHIVOS children were doing extremely well but others were having difficulty keeping up with their hearing peers at school. At this age, severity of hearing loss strongly predicted language skills. It was encouraging to find that the gap between hearing and hearing-impaired students had not widened -if anything, the CHIVOS children had caught up a little with their hearing peers. 

    At 17-19 years old

    The most recent data collection in 2010-11 gives some insight into what it's like to be a young person with hearing loss. The study is particularly interested in finding out more about language and learning outcomes as well as the participants' education/employment, friendships, health, and hopes for the future.

    What's next for CHIVOS participants?

    • Further CHIVOS follow-up

    Depending on funding, a fourth wave of data collection will occur between 2013 and 2015, when participants are in their mid 20s.  

    • CHIVOS and VicCHILD

    VicCHILD is the 'Victorian Childhood Hearing Impairment Longitudinal Databank'. It's a new Victorian register and research databank of children and young adults born with a permanent hearing loss. VicCHILD is collecting information to create a unique resource for advancing research in hearing loss.

    VicCHILD is working towards contacting all Victorian families who have a child diagnosed with a permanent hearing loss who initially came through the Victorian Hearing Infant Screening Program. This includes the young adults who have been part of CHIVOS.

    For CHIVOS participants this means allowing VicCHILD to use the information they've already given to CHIVOS. This will ensure the data that families provided to CHIVOS is used to its fullest. Families can choose to provide VicCHILD with all, or just parts of, the information provided to CHIVOS.

    CHIVOS participants can expect to be contacted by VicCHILD researchers in 2012.

    Information for CHIVOS participants

    Your consent as a young adult

    The last time we saw you some of you were not yet 18 years old. That's why we asked for parental consent. Now that you are all legally adults we will ask you in the future for your own consent to continue participation in the study.

    pdating your contact details

    Your home address or phone number might have changed since we last saw you. It is really important for us to have the correct contact information for CHIVOS families. If you or your parent(s) have recently moved or changed phone numbers please contact the CHIVOS team so we can update your details.

    We found that text messages were a great way for us to stay in touch with you, so if you have a new mobile phone number please let us know.

    You can contact us at any time on:

    Phone: (03) 9345 6528



    The CHIVOS team

    Professor Melissa Wake is a paediatrician, and is the Director of Research at the Centre for Community Child Health.

    Dr Zeffie Poulakis is a psychologist, and the director of the Victorian Infant Hearing Screening Program.

    Dr Karen Wirth is a psychologist and research officer for the SCOUT and CHIVOS projects at the Centre for Community Child Health.

    Professor Field Rickards is the Dean of Melbourne Graduate School of Education at The University of Melbourne.

    Dr Louise Paatsch is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Arts and Education at DeakinUniversity.

    Ms Alison King, Principal Audiologist, Paediatric Services, Australian Hearing.


    Before we make contact with you at each wave of CHIVOS data collection, we gain ethical approval from The Royal Children's Hospital (RCH) Human Research Ethical Committee (HREC). The RCH HREC is constituted and operates in accordance with the NHMRC National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Research Involving Humans (2007).


    Australasian Newborn Hearing Screening Conference (ANHSC) 2011

    2011 (April), Freemantle: 2011 (April), Freemantle:A population-based study of mild-profound congenital hearing loss from childhood to early adulthood: CHIVOS(talk presented by Dr Zeffie Poulakis)

    Beyond Newborn Hearing Screening. Infant and Childhood Hearing in Science and Clinical Practice Conference (NHS) 2012

    2012 (June), Italy:Child, adolescent and young adult outcomes in children born with congenital hearing loss before UNHS: The CHIVOS population-based longitudinal study(talk to be presented by Dr Zeffie Poulakis)


    • Wake M, Hughes EK, Poulakis Z, Collins C, Rickards FW. Outcomes of mild-profound congenital hearing impairment at 7-8 years: a population study. Ear & Hearing 2004;25:1-8
    • Wake M, Poulakis Z, Hughes EK, Carey-Sargeant C, Rickards FW. Hearing impairment: a population study of age at diagnosis, severity and language outcomes at 7-8 years. Arch Dis Child 2005; 90:238-244
    • Wake M, Hughes EK, Collins CM, Poulakis Z. Parent-reported health-related quality of life in children with congenital hearing loss: a population study. Ambulatory Pediatrics 2004; 4:411-417
    • Dahl H-HM, Wake M, Sarant J, Poulakis Z, Siemering K, Blamey P. Language and speech perception outcomes in hearing-impaired children with and without Connexin 26 mutations. Audiology and Neuro-Otology 2003; 8(5):263-268

    Stay tuned for upcoming publications stemming from a report by the CHIVOS MCRI/CCH team for the Victorian Deaf Education Institute (VDEI), that includes data from the three waves of the CHIVOS study.


Murdoch Childrens Research Institute

The Centre for Community Child Health is a department of The Royal Children’s Hospital and a research group of Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.