Hearing Norton Sound: Mixed methods protocol of a community randomised trial to address childhood hearing loss in rural Alaska

Susan D. Emmett, Samantha Kleindienst Robler, Joseph J Gallo, Nae Yuh Wang, Alain B Labrique, Philip Hofstetter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Introduction Childhood hearing loss has implications for school achievement, economic outcomes and quality of life. This study will engage rural Alaska communities in research to improve the school hearing screening and referral process, partnering with stakeholders to develop a locally derived, evidence-based solution to improve timely identification and treatment of childhood hearing loss. Methods and analysis Mixed methods community randomised trial in 15 communities in the Norton Sound region of northwest Alaska. Data collection will span from April 2017 until February 2020. Qualitative and mixed methods components are described in this protocol and the community randomised trial in the companion protocol. Focus groups and community events will be held leading up to the randomised trial to obtain community perspectives on childhood hearing loss in Alaska and elicit community input during trial protocol refinement (exploratory sequential stage). Stakeholder groups, including parents, children, teachers, school administrators and community health aides, will participate, along with community leaders, tribal leaders and community members. The randomised trial will be combined with qualitative, semi-structured interviews to elicit stakeholder perspectives on the intervention (explanatory sequential stage). The five stakeholder groups described above will participate in interviews. The study will conclude with additional focus groups and community events to discuss results and provide community insight for future implementation. Concluding focus groups will include policymakers, healthcare administrators, and tribal and community leaders in addition to the stakeholder groups. Informed consent and child assent will be required. Recordings will be transcribed and deidentified, with only stakeholder group recorded. Analyses will include categorical coding as well as narrative and thematic analysis. Ethics and dissemination The Hearing Norton Sound study has been approved by the Institutional Review Boards of Alaska Area, Norton Sound, and Duke University, with trial registration on clinicaltrials.gov. Study results will be distributed with equal emphasis on scientific and community dissemination. Trial registration number NCT03309553; Results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere023081
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • alaska native
  • children
  • community-based research
  • health disparities
  • hearing loss
  • mixed methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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