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American Public Health Association
133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition
December 10-14, 2005
Philadelphia, PA
APHA 2005
3361.0: Monday, December 12, 2005 - 5:42 PM

Abstract #115699

Metabolic syndrome risks: A pilot study with deaf adults who communicate with American Sign Language

Steven Barnett, MD, Dept of Family Medicine, University of Rochester, Family Medicine Research Programs, 1381 South Avenue, Rochester, NY 14620, 585 506 9484 ext 110, steven_barnett@urmc.rochester.edu and Robert Pollard, PhD, Dept of Psychiatry, University of Rochester, 300 Crittenden Blvd., Rochester, NY 14642.

Objective: To examine metabolic syndrome risks in deaf adults who use American Sign Language (ASL).

Background: Deaf ASL-users comprise an understudied and medically underserved language minority. They experience health disparities, including poorer health and less access to health information and healthcare services compared to the general population. Low literacy contributes to disparities. Limited access to information and healthcare may put deaf adults and their families at risk for health problems related to lifestyle choices including diet and exercise. Age adds to the relevance; a large cohort of deaf adults were born during the rubella pandemic of the early 1960s.

Methods: We recruited deaf adults attending a daytime community activity. ASL-fluent researchers (hearing and deaf) reviewed the research with potential participants and obtained consent. Participants completed a single page low-literacy English questionnaire; ASL-fluent researchers answered any questions. We then measured blood pressure, height, weight and waist circumference.

Results: Sixty-one deaf adults participated (median age = 46). 84% knew they became deaf before age 3. 77% reported ASL as their one best language. Few smoked (11%) and half (54%) reported regular exercise. Whereas 28% reported being “too heavy,” 71% had a BMI > 25 and many (57% of women and 38% of men) had abdominal obesity by waist circumference. 21% rated their blood pressure “too high” but 46% of participants had elevated blood pressure. We will present additional data.

Conclusion: Deaf people are at risk for lifestyle-related diseases. Research should determine prevalence and examine public health interventions with deaf people.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Deaf, Risk Factors

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.

Emerging Evidence in Disability and Health Promotion

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