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Economic evaluation of newborn hearing screening: modelling costs and outcomes

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Objectives: The prevalence of newborn hearing disorders is 1-3 per 1,000. Crucial for later outcome are correct diagnosis and effective treatment as soon as possible. With BERA and TEOAE low-risk techniques for early detection are available. Universal screening is recommended but not realised in most European health care systems.Aim of the study was to examine the scientific evidence of newborn hearing screening and a comparison of medical outcome and costs of different programmes, differentiated by type of strategy (risk screening, universal screening, no systematical screening). Methods: In an interdisciplinary health technology assessment project all studies on newborn hearing screening detected in a standardized comprehensive literature search were identified and data on medical outcome, costs, and cost-effectiveness extracted. A Markov model was designed to calculate cost-effectiveness ratios. Results: Economic data were extracted from 20 relevant publications out of 39 publications found. In the model total costs for screening of 100,000 newborns with a time horizon of ten years were calculated: 2.0 Mio.€ for universal screening (U), 1.0 Mio.€ for risk screening (R), and 0.6 Mio.€ for no screening (N). The costs per child detected: 13,395€ (U) respectively 6,715€ (R), and 4,125€ (N). At 6 months of life the following percentages of cases are detected: U 72%, R 43%, N 13%. Conclusions: A remarkable small number of economic publications mainly of low methodological quality was found. In our own model we found reasonable cost-effectiveness ratios also for universal screening. Considering the outcome advantages of higher numbers of detected cases a universal newborn hearing screening is recommended.


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