Including deaf people in health surveillance
Monroe County 2006 Adult Health Survey: Administration of the local Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)
NCDHR helped to develop the Monroe County Department of Public Health telephone BRFSS, which surveyed 2,546 adults via random digit dialing in summer 2006. We added a series of screener questions about hearing loss or deafness in the household (up to 18 questions, depending on the individual’s responses) as a way to try to estimate the size of the local Deaf and hard-of-hearing populations.
We use this telephone sample of Monroe County residents as a comparison group for the NCDHR sign language-based Deaf Health Survey (DHS). A local general population comparison group allows NCDHR to work with community partners to identify and prioritize unwanted disparities. Survey findings show that telephone screeners are not a good way to identify households with deaf adult ASL-users, even in a geographic area with a large deaf population. We need to develop other recruitment strategies in order to include Deaf ASL-users in public health research and surveillance. More...
Sutter E, Barnett S, Pearson TA. Identifying people who are deaf and hard-of-hearing for inclusion in public health surveillance: Experiences piloting a BRFSS telephone module. Presented at the CDC 27th Annual Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) Conference, San Diego, CA; 2010 Mar 20-24.
Barnett S, McKee M, Smith SR, Pearson TA. (2011). Deaf sign language users, health inequities and public health: Opportunity for social justice. Preventing Chronic Disease 8(2). Full text, link to ASL VIdeo
Pandhi N, Schumacher JR, Barnett S, Smith MA. (2011). Hearing loss and older adults’ perceptions of access to care. J Community Health 2011 Oct;36(5):748-55. Abstract
Monroe County 2006 Adult Health Survey report: http://www.monroecounty.gov/File/Health/2006%20ADULT%20HEALTH%20SURVEY.pdf
Monroe County Department of Public Health: http://www.monroecounty.gov/health-index.php
The deaf and hard of hearing telephone screener was administered to all participants in the telephone survey; nineteen participants described themselves as deaf or having a severe hearing loss and none reported sign language use. Five respondents reported one household member used sign language; 3 of those were adults.
Overall, Rochester area DHS participants had higher educational attainment and lower median income than Monroe County telephone survey participants. DHS participants were less likely to report current smoking and more likely to report height and weight consistent with a BMI > 25 (overweight/obese). We also identified other disparities and are exploring other findings from these two surveys.
A telephone screener was virtually unable to identify deaf people or ASL-users, even in an area with a large deaf population. Public health professionals should work with local deaf and hard of hearing populations to adapt recruitment strategies and surveillance tools in order to measure health in these communities.
Last updated: 02/14/2012