Giap H. Vu, Anthony Azzolini, Laura S.Humphries, Daniel M.Mazzaferro, Christopher L.Kalmar, Carrie E.Zimmerman, Jordan W.Swanson, Jesse A.Taylor, Scott P.Bartlett
This study investigates laypersons’ perceptions of congenital ear deformities and preferences for treatment, particularly with ear molding therapy—an effective, noninvasive, yet time-sensitive treatment.
Laypersons were recruited via crowdsourcing to view photographs of normal ears or one of the following ear deformities, pre- and post-molding: constricted, cryptotia, cupped/lopped, helical rim deformity, prominent, and Stahl. Participants answered questions regarding perceptions and treatment preferences for the ear. Statistical analyses included multiple linear and logistic regressions and Wilcoxon signed-rank tests.
A total of 983 individuals participated in the study. All deformities were perceived as significantly abnormal, likely to impair hearing, and associated with lower psychosocial quality of life (all P < 0.001). For all deformities, participants were likely to choose ear molding over surgery despite the logistical and financial implications of ear molding (all P < 0.02). Participants were significantly more satisfied with the outcome of ear molding in all deformities compared with control, except constricted ears (all P < 0.002, except Pconstricted = 0.073). Concern for hearing impairment due to ear deformity was associated with increased likelihoods of seeing a physician (P < 0.001) and choosing ear molding despite treatment logistics and costs (all P < 0.001).
Laypersons perceived all ear deformities as abnormal and associated with low psychosocial quality of life. Despite logistical and financial implications, laypersons generally desired molding therapy for ear deformities; treatment outcomes were satisfactory for all deformities except constricted ears. Timely diagnosis of this condition is crucial to reaping the benefits of ear molding therapy.
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