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The SCOUT study


    Statewide Comparison of Outcomes of Hearing Loss (SCOUT)

    Want to read the lastest SCOUT newsletter? 

    What is the SCOUT project?

    Now that newborn babies can have hearing checks, hearing loss is often picked up soon after birth.  We know that newborn hearing programs help many children.  SCOUT is the first project in the world to find out how effective newborn hearing programs are for all children.

    Why is SCOUT being done?

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    From 2003 to 2005 New South Wales offered newborn hearing checks to all babies, while Victoria offered hearing checks only to babies at high risk for deafness.  SCOUT wants to study all children with bilateral hearing loss born during this period, when they are around 5 years old.  This will let SCOUT find out the benefits and costs of screening all babies, compared to screening only the high risk babies.

    Participants in SCOUT

    Who participated in SCOUT?

    Children were invited to join SCOUT if they:

    • Had a bilateral hearing loss
    • Were fitted with hearing aids or cochlear implant(s) by 4 years of age
    • Were born between March 2003 and February 2005 in New South Wales or Victoria

    Our final SCOUT sample

    • In total, 137 families participated in SCOUT: 66 (VIC), 71 (NSW)
    • 38% of SCOUT children were in LOCHI
    • Assistive devices worn by SCOUT children are:
      • Hearing aid(s): 69%
      • Cochlear Implant(s): 19%
      • Hearing aid and cochlear implant: 10%

    Families in SCOUT

    We collected information about child hearing, language, behaviour, health and use of health services. We also collected information from parents about themselves.

    Families also in LOCHI

    Some families who took part in SCOUT are also taking part in another study carried out by the National Acoustic Laboratories (NAL) called LOCHI. For these families:

    • It was ok for them to take part in LOCHI and SCOUT because they are asking different questions.
    • Their SCOUT visit was shorter because we didn't need to assess their child again.
    • We asked for permission to get some of their child's LOCHI 5-year old results. That way parents and children in both SCOUT and LOCHI didn't have to repeat what they'd already done for LOCHI.
      SOUT Researchers Conducting Visits
    Vivienne Martin (NSW) and Karen Wirth (VIC) will visit many of the children.

    What did CHILDREN in SCOUT do?

    We visited children and their parent at home, kinder/preschool or school. 

    • SCOUT children in LOCHI did NOT need to do any extra SCOUT activities.
    • SCOUT children not in LOCHI had a SCOUT visit which lasted about 3 hours.
      During this time children had a: 

    SCOUT assessment. (click here to read about it)

    What did PARENTS in SCOUT do?

    What did PARENTS in SCOUT do? (click here to read about it)

    Parents of children in SCOUT were asked to do three things. To read more about each one, please click on the link above.

    • Chat to us about their child's hearing loss
    • Fill out two parent questionnaires*. 
    • Give us permission to access their child's service records

    Who is SCOUT?

    Who's supporting SCOUT?

    This important study is being funded by Australia's National Health & Medical Research Council.
    It has also been approved by:

    • The Human Research Ethics Committee at Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital (Victoria, Australia)
    • The National Acoustic Laboratories Ethics Committee (NSW, Australia)

    Which institutions are doing the research?

    SCOUT is a major collaborative project involving the following institutions:

    The Centre for Community Child Health, Royal Children's Hospital VIC, Australia
    Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Royal Children's Hospital VIC, Australia
    The National Acoustic Laboratories NSW, Australia
    Australian Hearing Australia
    Deakin Health Economics VIC, Australia
    Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne VIC, Australia

    Who is in the SCOUT Research Team?

    The multidisciplinary SCOUT team has members with expertise in a range of areas such as:

    SCOUT Member Position
     Prof Melissa Wake Paediatrician, Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne
     Dr Teresa Ching   Senior Scientist, National Acoustic Laboratories, Sydney
     Dr Lisa Gold Health Economist, Deakin University, Melbourne
     Dr Zeffie Poulakis  Director, Victorian Infant Screening Program
     Prof Field Rickards  Dean of Education, Melbourne University
     Prof Sheena Reilly  Professor of Speech Pathology, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne
     Dr Harvey Dillon Director, National Acoustic Laboratories, Sydney
     Dr Melinda Barker   Co-Director, Victorian Infant Screening Program
     Ms Alison King   Principal Audiologist, Paediatric Services, Australian Hearing
     Dr Elisabeth Murphy   Senior Clinical Advisor, Maternal Child Health, NSW Department of Health
     Ms Fiona Mensah

    Statistician, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne

    SCOUT Research Team

    From top left: Dr Harvey Dillon, Ms Vivienne Martin, Dr Zeffie Poulakis, Dr Karen Wirth.
    From bottom left: Dr Teresa Ching, Ms Samatha Youn, Prof Melissa Wake.

    SCOUT forms

      Your child is IN the LOCHI study Your child is NOT in the LOCHI study
    Want to read theSCOUT consent form? SCOUT Parent Info and Consent Form-In LOCHI.pdf SCOUT Parent Info and Consent-Not in LOCHI.pdf

    Want to read the SCOUT newsletter?

    SCOUT Newsletter Dec 2010

    Need to update your contact details?

    SCOUT Change of contact details 2010-2011.pdf

    SCOUT Progress

    We've now visited all SCOUT children. Thank you again!

    We've put together the data from all the assessments of SCOUT children and we've done some initial comparisons between children in the two states. To answer all our SCOUT questions, we now need to put together the information you gave us about your children in the questionnaires. Then we'll compare the results between children in the two states.

    We are also looking at how much it costs to support a child born with hearing loss in the two states. You told us what help you got for your child's hearing loss. With your permission, services also told us the help they gave your child. Once we've combined all this information we'll know what it all costs.

    SCOUT presentations

    Note: "UNHS" below refers to "Universal Newborn Hearing Screening".

    SCOUT Presentations given

    Newborn Hearing Screening (NHS) Conference 

    2008 (June), Cernobbio, Italy: Introduction to the SCOUT study (poster presented by Dr Zeffie Poulakis)

    2010 (June) Cernobbio, Italy: Preliminary findings from SCOUT (talk presented by Prof Melissa Wake)

    Australian Health Economics Society (AHES)

    2009 (Oct), Hobart: Review of economic evidence for UNHS (talk presented by Dr Lisa Gold)

    Australasian Newborn Hearing Screening Conference ANHSC

    2011 (Apr), Freemantle: 5 year old child outcomes (talk presented by Prof Melissa Wake)

    2011 (Apr), Freemantle: Cost-effectivenessof UNHS (talk presented by Dr Karen Wirth)

    UK Newborn Hearing Screening Program Annual Conference (NHSP)

    2010 (March), London, UK: Quality in Assessments across the care pathway (talk presented by Prof Melissa Wake)

    NHS Symposium

    2010 (October), Netherlands: Information, knowledge, wisdom: Using population data to improve outcomes for children with hearing impairment (keynote speech presented by Prof Melissa Wake)

    Upcoming SCOUT presentations

    World Congress on Health Economics

    2011 (Jul), Toronto: Health-related quality of life of children with HI and their parents (to be presented by Dr Lisa Gold)

    What's next for SCOUT?

    We are currently looking at all the information we collected, to compare children between states and work out the benefits and costs of different hearing screening programs.

    Overseas teams with similar questions are keen to join forces with SCOUT. Then we could compare findings in different countries. If possible, we will also ask your permission to see your child again at about age 10, to look at later outcomes. However this depends on funding!

    Other Hearing Studies at the Centre for Community Child Health (CCCH)


    We plan to start our VicCHILD project soon. VicCHILD is a databank to track outcomes of hearing loss over time. A databank is an information store that grows over time, with families' permission. It could help improve care and treatment for children with hearing loss. Victorian families with children born with hearing loss will be able to join from 2011. We hope SCOUT families will
    consider joining! We'll contact you when it's ready to go. Find out more at:


    In 2010, CCCH hearing researchers visited 17-19 year olds born with hearing loss. We first saw these children in 1999 when they were just 7-8 years old - when CHIVOS (the 'Children with Hearing Loss in Victoria Outcome Study') first started. Now, we're learning about their hopes and dreams as young adults. Find out more at:

    Useful Links

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    SCOUT study details

    Official Title Population outcomes and cost-effectiveness of universal newborn hearing screening vs. risk factor screening at age 5 years.
    Date Start:  2008
    Finish:   2011
    Funding NHMRC (Australia's National Health & Medical Research Council)


    Contact Us

     SCOUT Office Contact Details  Email:
    Phone: (03) 9345 6528
     Victorian SCOUT contacts

    Dr Karen Wirth (Project Manager and Psychologist)
    Phone: (03) 9345 6528

    Dr Zeffie Poulakis (Psychologist)

    Professor Melissa Wake (Paediatrician)


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.