This cross-sectional study was undertaken to assess the prevalence and risk factors for otitis media with effusion (OME) in Trabzon, a city in northeastern Turkey, and evaluate the need for screening for OME in the normal population. In kindergartens, daycare centers, public and private schools in the rural and central areas of Trabzon, 1,077 children aged between 5 and 12 years were examined. OME prevalence was 11.14% (120/1,077). Young age, attendance at kindergarten/daycare, low economical status, the mother's working status (housewife), history of snoring and acute otitis media, antibiotic use in the previous 3 months and active upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) were found to be the risk factors for OME. A history of hearing loss reported by the parents and teachers was found significant in the diagnosis of OME despite the low predictive value. When the parents suspected that their child had experienced hearing loss (in 36 cases), they did not refer them to a healthcare facility. To conclude, the approach to OME in developing countries should be more interventional as healthcare coverage is usually low and behavioral factors such as the demand for healthcare is poor.