Identifying Deaf Adolescents on a Local YRBS
Monroe County 2005 Youth Risk Behavior Survey
The Monroe County Department of Public Health administers the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) to Rochester high school students every two years. RPRC:NCDHR added two items to the 2005 MC-YRBS. One item asked the participant to rate their own hearing on a four point scale (good, a little trouble, a lot of trouble, deaf); the other item asked if a parent/guardian is deaf or hard of hearing (yes, no, or don't know). Our goal with these questions was to begin to examine health behaviors in deaf and hard of hearing students and in families with a deaf parent.
Preliminary analyses revealed that students who identified themselves as "deaf" or "a lot of trouble" hearing responded differently than students who identified as hearing. We also found some health and health behavior differences associated with parents' hearing status. In Rochester, NY, a written English YRBS had limited ability to identify mainstreamed deaf high school students and reliably describe their health and health behaviors, but it did help to identify families with a Deaf parent. This may help identify risk subgroups and appropriately develop and target family-focused health promotion interventions.
Monroe County students who identified themselves as “deaf” or “a lot of trouble” hearing (n=48) responded differently than students who identified as hearing (n=1568). For example, students who self-reported they were deaf or had severe hearing loss were more likely to describe their weight at either extreme of a five-point scale: more likely to report “very underweight” (9.1% vs 1.8%) and “very overweight” (13.6% vs 2.4%). On the question “What are you trying to do about your weight?” the deaf/severe students were less likely to choose “stay the same” (8.9% vs 21.9%) of the four response options. This pattern may indicate poor comprehension of the questions and response options, resulting in more random response option selection, or it may indicate that some students who indicate “deaf” are “extreme responders” (always pick an extreme response to each question, including picking “deaf”), or it may indicate actual differences in weight, weight perceptions and weight-related behaviors.
Having a Deaf or hard-of-hearing (hoh) parent or guardian was reported by 131 hearing participants (8.4%) and 14 participants who reported themselves as being Deaf/severe (30.4%). Preliminary analyses revealed some health and health behavior differences associated with parents’ hearing status. For example, hearing students with a Deaf/hoh parent were more likely than those with hearing parents to describe their weight as extremes: very underweight (6.9% vs 1.2%) or very overweight (4.6% vs 2.1%). Hearing students with a Deaf/hoh parent were also more likely than hearing students with hearing parents to report fasting (16.2% vs 9.7%) and use of diet pills (12.4% vs 3.6%) to lose weight or keep from gaining weight.
This written English YRBS had limited ability to identify mainstreamed deaf high school students and reliably describe their health and health behaviors. RPRC:NCDHR was able to identify families with a Deaf parent. This, in-turn, may help identify risk subgroups and appropriately develop and target family-focused health promotion interventions.
Monroe County Department of Public Health: http://www.monroecounty.gov/health-index.php