Dr. Christina Studts, assistant professor in the UK College of Public Health’s department of Health Behavior, has recently been selected for funding through the Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS) Pilot Program for a project examining behavioral problems in children who have hearing loss. Dr. Studts will be co-PI (principal investigator) with Dr. Matthew Bush, assistant professor in the UK College of Medicine’s Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, on the project titled “Assessing and Addressing Behavioral Problems in Children with Hearing Loss.”
The innovative, interdisciplinary project will seek to maximize the combined expertise of Dr. Studts, a clinical social worker and public health researcher whose research targets early childhood behavior issues, and Dr. Bush, a cochlear implant surgeon and expert in pediatric hearing loss. They will be joined on the project by Dr. Philip Westgate, assistant professor of Biostatistics in the College of Public Health, and study coordinator Robin Thompson, who received her Master of Public Health (MPH) degree in Health Behavior from UK and now works as a research coordinator for Dr. Bush.
Studies suggest that children with hearing loss are at an increased risk for behavior problems compared to their typical hearing peers. 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 that will 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,” Dr. Studts stated. “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.”