Preferences for Communication in Clinic from Deaf People: a Cross-Sectional Study

A paper combining Anna's research of deaf communities with her experience as a genetic counsellor, for the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice
14th June 2010

Abstract

Aims and objectives: To explore the preferences of deaf people for communication in a hospital consultation.

Methods: Design – cross-sectional survey, using a structured, postal questionnaire. Setting – survey of readers of two journals for deaf and hard of hearing people. Participants – 999 self-selected individuals with hearing loss in the UK, including those who use sign language and those who use speech. Main outcome measures – preferred mode of communication.

Results: A total of 11% of participants preferred to use sign language within everyday life, 70% used speech and 17% used a mixture of sign and speech. Within a clinic setting, 50% of the sign language users preferred to have a consultation via a sign language interpreter and 43% indicated they would prefer to only have a consultation directly with a signing health professional; 7% would accept a consultation in speech as long as there was good deaf awareness from the health professional, indicated by a knowledge of lip-reading/ speech-reading. Of the deaf speech users, 98% preferred to have a consultation in speech and of this group 71% indicated that they would only accept this if the health professional had good deaf awareness. Among the participants who used a mixture of sign language and speech, only 5% said they could cope with a consultation in speech with no deaf awareness whereas 46% were accepting of a spoken consultation as long as it was provided with good deaf awareness; 30% preferred to use an interpreter and 14% preferred to have a consul- tation directly with a signing health professional.

Conclusions: Thehospitalcommunicationpreferencesformostpeoplewithdeafnesscould be met by increasing deaf awareness training for health professionals, a greater provision of specialized sign language interpreters and of health professionals who can use fluent sign language directly with clients in areas where contact with deaf people is frequent. 

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Citation:

Middleton A, Turner GH, Bitner-Glindzicz M, Lewis P, Richards M, et al (2010) Preferences for Communication in Clinic from Deaf People: a Cross-Sectional Study. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, vol. 16, issue 4, pp 811-817