Patient and Parent Decision-Making in the Setting of Chemotherapy-Induced Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Ginny L. Schulz, Susan Hayashi, Anne Spence, Judith Lieu, Allison King, Robert J. Hayashi, Caroline Mohrmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objectives: Children with malignancies may be exposed to ototoxic therapies resulting in sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL). There is no consensus as to when intervention with amplification is necessary due to a variety of factors such as disease status, speech and language development, perceived difficulty with communication, and limitations of technology to fit these challenging losses. The decision to proceed with amplification after cancer can be difficult for patients and families. The purpose of this study is (1) to understand the decision-making (DM) process of childhood cancer survivors (CCSs) with SNHL and their parents and (2) to identify their decisional needs. Design: Semi-structured interviews guided by the Ottawa's decision support framework were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Inclusion criteria were CCSs ages 8 to 30 years old with a Chang grade >1b SNHL and off-therapy; parents of this group were also eligible. Patients with active disease were excluded. Prompts inquired of sources of decisional conflict, role in DM, and DM behaviors. Inductive content analysis of the narrative qualitative data was used. Results: Seven parents of CCSs and 6 CCSs participated. Themes in the CCS group included: (1) making sense of ototoxic SNHL; (2) desiring personalized education and treatment of SNHL; (3) playing an active role in the joint DM process; and (4) accepting hearing aids requires time and effort. The parent group shared the first and last theme with the CCS group and had two unique themes: (1) needing experts to respect the individual's journey to SNHL acceptance and (2) moving past the cancer experience to acceptance. Parents more often framed their DM within the context of already experiencing the trauma of cancer, whereas CCSs did not. One parent said, "You see all the rubble and you've lived through the devastation of the storm, but now you got to figure out what's broken." CCSs expressed bodily concerns regarding amplification, such as discomfort to the ear and difficulty in adjusting to the volume. The following needs were identified: early, re-enforced education regarding late effects risks; open communication among providers, CCSs, and parents; and audiogram result interpretations in patient- and parent-friendly language. Conclusions: Understanding the DM process from the CCS and parent's perspectives should be considered when providing counseling for hearing amplification in the setting of cancer-related SNHL. Earlier and consistent delivery of late effects education, open communication regarding risk for SNHL, and improved delivery of audiogram results should be targets for meeting unmet needs. These findings should inform the development of decision aids to reduce decisional conflict in this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1684-1691
Number of pages8
JournalEar and hearing
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 15 2020


  • Cancer
  • Decision-making
  • Family centered
  • Pediatrics
  • Sensorineural hearing loss


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