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American Public Health Association
133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition
December 10-14, 2005
Philadelphia, PA
APHA 2005
4305.0: Tuesday, December 13, 2005 - 4:48 PM

Abstract #115437

Health literacy in the deaf population: A preliminary study

Robert Pollard, PhD, Dept of Psychiatry, University of Rochester, 300 Crittenden Blvd., Rochester, NY 14642, 585 275 3544, Robert_Pollard@urmc.rochester.edu and Steven Barnett, MD, Family Medicine, University of Rochester School of Medicine, 1381 South Avenue, Rochester, NY 14620.

Health literacy is receiving increasing attention by researchers and policy makers. Beyond reading and writing, the term encompasses the entirety of skills and knowledge consumers bring to bear to participate effectively in optimizing health and treating and preventing disease. Many Americans experience diminished capacity for health literacy, a problem contributing to health disparities in minority populations in particular. Among the highest risk of these minority populations is the deaf population. Compromised English literacy, limited access to sign language interpreters in healthcare settings, constrained exposure to health information (e.g., via radio, TV, overheard conversations, published media, and families who generally do not learn sign language) arguably conspires to severely limit health literacy in this population. There is no published research on this topic. The presenter conducted a preliminary study on health literacy involving a sample of 61 deaf adults, employing a modified version of the Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine (REALM). A small number of modified REALM responses from self-defined “hard-of-hearing” and hearing individuals also were gathered. Results showed that 29% of deaf respondents earned REALM scores at or below levels typical of hearing middle schoolers whereas 1% and 0% of the hard-of-hearing and hearing samples (respectively) scored that low. Indications that this was a more highly educated deaf sample than is typical of the population were especially concerning. The study methodology will be described, including the nature of the REALM modification, and a discussion of the results embedded in a wider perspective on deaf health literacy issues.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Health Literacy, Deaf

Related Web page: www.urmc.rochester.edu/dwc

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

I wish to disclose that I have NO financial interests or other relationship with the manufactures of commercial products, suppliers of commercial services or commercial supporters.

[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

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The 133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition (December 10-14, 2005) of APHA