for people ages 2-6 (full criteria)
at San Francisco, California
study started
completion around
Principal Investigator
by Dylan K Chan, MD, PhD
Headshot of Dylan K Chan
Dylan K Chan



Children who are deaf or hard-of-hearing (D/HH) are at risk of speech and language delays, which can be mitigated through early identification and intervention. Identifying hearing loss (HL) during preschool is crucial, but the most effective hearing screening method for preschoolers remains uncertain. The purpose of this study is to learn whether, compared to the gold-standard two-stage Pure-tone audiometry (PTA) + otoacoustic emissions (OAE) screening (TS-PO), single-stage OAE (SS-O) screening alone is not inferior at identifying hearing loss when performed in a community-based preschool setting. This study holds the potential to improve early hearing loss detection and intervention among D/HH children, reducing the likelihood of speech and language delays.

A diverse group of 28,000 preschool-age children across community-based preschool centers will be recruited. The intervention involves all subjects undergoing both PTA and OAE screening, with the order determined through randomization. Children who show potential hearing issues based on screening results or teacher concerns will receive further testing to determine the final hearing outcome. Group allocation will be post-hoc, based on their screening results.

In addition to the primary objective, the study will compare other hearing screening measures and outcomes between the two methods (TS-PO and SS-O). This approach aims to reflect the real-life effectiveness of hearing screening in a diverse population. Ultimately, the study seeks to provide insights into an optimal hearing screening method that could prevent speech and language delays among D/HH children.

Official Title

Pure-tone Audiometry Versus Otoacoustic Emissions for Preschool Hearing Screening


1.1 Study Groups Each subject will undergo both PTA and OAE screening and be assigned post hoc to both TS-PO and SS-O groups with within-subject comparison of hearing screening outcomes.

1.2 Study Interventions In this study, we will compare the effectiveness of 1) TS-PO versus 2) SS-O in a community- based preschool setting to identify hearing loss. The interventions will be implemented in two distinct phases - a data collection phase, in which every subject will undergo both PTA and OAE screening; and group allocation phase, in which every subject will be allocated to both study groups (TS-PO and SS-O) virtually, for within-subject comparison.

1.2.1 Two-stage PTA+OAE Screening (TS-PO) Children will first undergo PTA screening, recommended for children aged 3 and older, using conditioned-play responses to 25 decibel (dB) HL pure tones at 1000, 2000, and 4000 Hz. Screening results include PASS, REFER, or UNABLE to test. Children unable to be tested immediately undergo OAE screening. Children who REFER either the PTA or the OAE test, or are UNABLE to be tested by both, are referred for further evaluation with their pediatrician. This two-stage method successfully screened 99.6% of preschoolers, with 3.1% identified with HL.

1.2.2 Single-Stage OAE Screening (SS-O) Children undergo screening with OAEs, detecting distortion-product OAEs in response to tone pairs centered at 2000, 3000, 4000, and 5000 Hz. Multiple studies support the efficacy of OAE hearing screening in preschool-aged children, with a success rate of 94% and identification of HL in 2.4%.

1.3 Study Timing and Duration Screening, recruitment, and enrollment will occur annually at each preschool site.

Hearing screening will take place annually. Diagnostic testing will be completed within 6 months of hearing screening.

1.4 Attrition and Study Withdrawal Subjects are enrolled at the moment of screening, and all possible outcomes (including failure or inability to complete screening and loss to follow-up) will be included in the final analysis, eliminating the opportunity for voluntary withdrawal or attrition.

1.5 Site Recruitment and Subject Enrollment Preschool site participation models vary based on whether site or study personnel perform hearing screening and case management. Three participation models are outlined based on who conducts screening and diagnosis.

Subject enrollment is performed by Site Personnel. A Screening and Enrollment Log (SEL) is maintained locally, with no identifiable information transmitted to the Study Team. Parents are notified of the hearing screening and study, with written or verbal permission obtained for screening. Children outside the inclusion age range (2.0-6.0 years) or with known permanent HL are not eligible. Children screened in previous years undergo annual screening, with only their first hearing screen used for analysis.

1.6 Study Procedures and Data Collection Screening Pathway Protocol covers site preparation, hearing screening, and screening outcomes. Screening Pathway Protocol involves screening personnel and training, including initial training and monitoring and quality assurance. Training levels of hearing screening personnel are defined as Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 based on their screening experience. Data Collection involves collecting information on screening outcomes, equipment calibration, OAE and PTA screening protocols, PASS/REFER/UNABLE criteria, and randomization of test order. Randomization ensures unbiased test order presentation and is not related to group allocation.

1.7 Group Allocation

Group allocation occurs after Data Collection. Subjects are assigned to either the TS-PO or SS-O group based on primary data, including PTA and OAE results, hearing screen outcomes (PASS or REFER), and final hearing outcomes (HL or No HL). Allocation involves assigning PASS outcomes based on PTA and OAE results, while REFER outcomes lead to determining the actual final hearing outcome (HL or No HL). This process generates comprehensive datasets for both comparator groups for subsequent data analysis of primary and secondary outcome variables.


Hearing Loss, Hearing Disorders in Children, Hearing Loss, Sensorineural, Hearing Loss, Conductive, Hearing Loss, Unilateral, Hearing Loss, Noise-Induced, Hearing Loss, Mixed, Hearing Loss, Bilateral, Preschool Hearing Screening, Otoacoustic Emissions, Pure-Tone Testing, Childhood Hearing Screening, Childhood Hearing Loss, Deafness, Sensorineural Hearing Loss, Hearing Disorders, Bilateral Hearing Loss, Conductive Hearing Loss, Unilateral Hearing Loss, Mixed Conductive-Sensorineural Hearing Loss, Noise-Induced Hearing Loss, Otoacoustic Emissions Testing, Pure Tone Audiometry


You can join if…

Open to people ages 2-6

  1. Age 2:0 - 6:0 years
  2. Enrolled in a community-based preschool program

You CAN'T join if...

  1. Known permanent HL, by parental or school report
  2. Use of a hearing assistive device
  3. Parent does not consent for hearing screening
  4. Child was screened previously for this study
  5. Child is not present in preschool on day of hearing screening


  • The UCSF accepting new patients
    San Francisco California 94158 United States

Lead Scientist at UCSF

  • Dylan K Chan, MD, PhD
    Dylan K. Chan, MD, PhD, is an Associate Professor in Residence and he is the Director of the Children’s Communication Center (CCC) in the Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (ONHS) at the University of California, San Francisco.


accepting new patients
Start Date
Completion Date
University of California, San Francisco
Study Type
Expecting 28000 study participants
Last Updated