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APHA Scientific Session and Event Listing

Measuring health risk behaviors of deaf and hard-of-hearing students; considering language difference

Elizabeth G. Finigan, MD1, Erika J. Sutter, MPH2, Vincent Samar, PhD3, Steven Barnett, MD4, Robert Q. Pollard, PhD5, Caryn Havens, MPH, MBA2, and Jonathan D. Klein, MD, MPH2. (1) Family Medicine, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, 1381 South Avenue, Rochester, NY 14620, (2) Division of Adolescent Medicine, University of Rochester, 601 Elmwood Ave, Rm 4-6234, Rochester, NY 14642-8690, (585) 275-0741, erika_sutter@urmc.rochester.edu, (3) National Technical Institute for the Deaf, 52 Lomb Memorial Drive, Rochester, NY 14623, (4) Family Medicine, University of Rochester School of Medicine, 1381 South Avenue, Rochester, NY 14620, (5) Psychiatry, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Deaf Wellness Center, 350 Crittendon Boulevard, Rochester, NY 14642

Background: An aim of "Healthy People 2010" is 100% inclusion of questions to identify people with disabilities. Deaf and hard-of-hearing people (D/HOH) constitute a population with an identified disability who may also face a language barrier to healthcare, health information, and health research participation. American Sign Language has no written equivalent and D/HOH students tend to have reading levels significantly lower than hearing students. In order to assess the health risk behaviors of the D/HOH cohort, the National Center for Deaf Health Research designed and piloted a unique instrument designed to ameliorate the effects of the language difference of the D/HOH population.

Methods: We selected items from youth, college and adult national surveillance instruments. Linguistic consultants guided word/phrase/syntax adaptations to maximize comprehension by D/HOH students while retaining item integrity. We piloted the survey and conducted cognitive interviews with 18 D/HOH college students. After revisions, we administered the survey to 200 D/HOH and 578 hearing first year college students.

Results: Cognitive interviews revealed unexpected interpretations of some of the English language questions. Preliminary survey analyses demonstrate significant differences between the answer patterns of D/HOH and hearing students. For D/HOH students, question structure, vocabulary chosen and logic patterns guiding subsequent questions influence answers chosen on the instrument.

Conclusion: To assess accurately the health risk behaviors of D/HOH college students, researchers need to substantially modify traditional survey instruments and methods.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session the learner will be able to

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No

Epidemiologic Methods: Important Considerations

The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA