A1 Journal article – refereed
Parental role in the diagnostics of otitis media: can parents be taught to use tympanometry reliably?

List of Authors: Erkkola-Anttinen N, Tähtinen PA, Laine MK, Ruohola A
Publisher: Elsevier
Publication year: 2014
Journal: International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology
Journal acronym: Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol
Volume number: 78
Issue number: 7
Number of pages: 4



Tympanometry can be used to detect middle ear effusion (MEE). As the need for rearrangement of clinical resources at the primary care level increases, it is important to determine whether layman parents could be taught to use the tympanometer reliably, aiming to reduce unnecessary physician visits during respiratory tract infections.


From our AOM treatment trial we enrolled 78 children (age 6–35 months) who had persistent MEE, parents were voluntary and willing to use a tympanometer at home, the child was sufficiently co-operative, and parents learned technically the use of the tympanometer. At home, parents were asked to perform daily bilateral tympanometry on their child. We included those parental tympanometric examinations, to which the corresponding tympanometric examination, within one day by a study physician was available. Parental tympanometric examinations were compared to the pneumatic otoscopy by a study physician which served as the diagnostic standard.


This study involved 78 children and a total of 432 parental tympanometric examinations. From these 432 examinations, parents obtained an interpretable tympanogram in 83% (359/432) and physicians in 91% (393/432) (absolute rate difference 8%, 95% CI 3–12%). Both obtained an interpretable tympanogram from the same ear in 75% (326/432) of the tympanometric examinations. Of these 326 interpretable examinations, parents and physicians were in accordance with either a peaked or a flat tympanogram in 88% of examinations (288/326) (kappa-value 0.77). When the tympanogram was peaked, pneumatic otoscopy indicated healthy middle ear in 72% (122/169) of parental and in 69% (149/217) of study physicians’ tympanometric examinations (absolute rate difference 4%, 95% CI −6% to 13%). When the tympanogram was flat, pneumatic otoscopy indicated any MEE in 92% of parental (174/190) and in 96% (169/176) of study physicians’ tympanometric examinations (absolute rate difference 4%, 95% CI −9% to 1%).


This study showed that layman parents are able to use tympanometry technically successfully, and that the parental tympanometric examinations are as reliable as those obtained by study physicians

Last updated on 2019-30-01 at 00:37