Cost-effectiveness and test-performance factors in relation to universal newborn hearing screening

Michael P. Gorga, Stephen T. Neely

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The first portion of this paper reviews current understanding of the cost of universal newborn hearing screening (UNHS), including capital and operating expenses, as well as the costs for follow-up testing on infants who do not pass the hearing screening test in the perinatal period. Capital expenses include the cost of equipment. Operating expenses include the costs for disposables and personnel. Follow-up costs relate to the diagnostic testing that must be performed in order to determine hearing status in those infants who do not pass the newborn hearing screening test. This section is followed by a more theoretical approach, in which test performance, prevalence, program costs, and "costs of hearing loss" are combined in a model that includes all costs of hearing loss, including screening, follow-up testing, and costs (benefits) associated with identifying hearing loss early in life. While some of the model's cost/benefit assumptions may be incorrect, the general approach of taking into account both costs and benefits provides a framework for evaluating the utility of UNHS in a more global manner. Model assumptions (costs, benefits, prevalence, sensitivity, specificity) can be changed to values deemed more appropriate, but the general approach is still informative. With the present assumptions, it is shown that initially, the costs of UNHS exceed its benefits. However, after only four years of operation, UNHS programs will result in a net savings to society. These savings increase rapidly, reaching a maximum annual benefit of seven billion dollars 75 years after initiation of the program, which is also the societal benefit for all years thereafter.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-108
Number of pages6
JournalMental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2003


  • Cost effectiveness
  • Likelihood ratio
  • Long-term benefit
  • Test performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Genetics(clinical)


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