Interdisciplinary Study of Behavioral Problems in Children with Hearing Loss Gains CCTS Funding


LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 12, 2015) — A pilot project examining behavioral problems in children with hearing loss was recently awarded funding from the University of Kentucky Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS).

The project, "Assessing and Addressing Behavioral Problems in Children with Hearing Loss," is led by Christina Studts, Ph.D, assistant professor in the UK Department of Behavioral Health in the College of Public Health, in collaboration with Dr. Matthew Bush, assistant professor in the UK College of Medicine’s Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery.   

The interdisciplinary project seeks to maximize the combined expertise of Studts, a clinical social worker and public health researcher whose research targets early childhood behavior issues, and Bush, a cochlear implant surgeon and expert in pediatric hearing loss. They are joined on the project by Philip Westgate, assistant professor of biostatistics in the College of Public Health, and study coordinator Robin Thompson.

Studies suggest that children with hearing loss are at an increased risk for behavior problems.  However, exploration into the behavioral outcomes of these children has suffered from a number of limitations, including small sample sizes, contradictory findings and a lack of clinically validated measures for behavioral problems.  Additionally, although behavioral parent training interventions have proven highly effective in families of children without hearing loss, no intervention trials for families with hearing impaired children have been reported.

This pilot study is designed to be the first step in a process to improve the methodology used to evaluate disparities in disruptive behavior problems in children with hearing loss, as well as assess the feasibility and effectiveness of behavioral parenting training interventions in this population.

“This project is really exciting not only because of its focus on a group that has been understudied with regard to behavioral problems, but also because of the new interdisciplinary collaboration we have established between public health and otolaryngology,” Studts said. "Dr. Bush and I met as KL2 scholars supported by the CCTS, and we’re both grateful and honored by this opportunity to pool our expertise and resources to tackle this issue.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Elizabeth Adams,