Do middle ear infections matter?: Student self-reported perceptions of behaviour, including social skills, following experience with otitis media with effusion


Children frequently experience fluctuating conductive hearing loss during and following episodes of otitis media with effusion. With the prevalence of the disease increasing in the non-Indigenous population in Australia, many children may be at risk of long-term problems related to their behaviour.

There are conflicting findings in the research literature regarding the effects of this type of hearing loss. For some students it appears that experience with otitis media with effusion with or without tympanostomy tube (grommet) insertion is associated with various educational problems, including inappropriate behaviours. A current concern is whether or not these possible effects would continue to influence the behaviour of children as they continue into their high school years.

A study was undertaken to identify the impact of otitis media with effusion and its associated sequelae on the behaviour of high school students. Self-reporting by high school students in Years 8 and 9 attending a Brisbane school provided information about their perceptions of various aspects of their behaviour (including social skills). Three groups were formed: a Non-OME/Non-Grommet Group (n = 28), an OME/Grommet Group (n = 17) and an OME/Non-Grommet Group (n = 32).

Analysis of the results revealed a range of mild effects; in particular, girls with a history of grommets exhibited a lack of confidence in their social skills and boys (with or without grommets) an increase in behaviour problems. The study identifies a number of associated teaching and learning issues, including noise levels in childcare environments and school classrooms, current teaching and learning methodology and the training of new teachers.


Janice S Stenton
Faculty of Education, University of Southern Queensland, Australia


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learning methodology; otitis media with effusion; middle ear infection; educational practice


PP: 114 - 122

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