205372 Using an Ecological Framework to understand health disparities in the Deaf Community

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Laura Lessard, MPH , Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Danielle Ross, PhD, MSc, MA , National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
Deirdre A. Schlehofer, MPhil, EdD , Rochester Prevention Research Center: National Center for Deaf Health Research, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
Adults with hearing loss face many health-related challenges, including those unrelated to their hearing loss. A subset of those with hearing loss, members of the Deaf community, comprise a unique cultural and linguistic minority. An estimated 500,000 adults are members of this cultural group. Previous research has suggested that there may be health disparities in this group. For example, deaf adults have higher rates of HIV/AIDS and heart disease.

Ecological models have been used in public health to explain the diverse impacts on health from a number of sources; these models describe the personal and environmental factors that contribute to behavior. We apply this model to explain how different factors might be contributing to health disparities in the Deaf community. Individual level impacts might include lack of knowledge about health and body processes and lower self-efficacy to perform certain health behaviors. Interpersonal level impacts might include language barriers between Deaf children and parents or friends, tightly knit social circles in which misinformation pervades, and unique social norms that limit discussion about certain health behaviors. Organizational level impacts might include lack of health education curricula developed for this population. Community level impacts might include reduced access to media campaigns due to language or cultural barriers. Policy level impacts might include unintended consequences of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and health care financing of effective communication strategies.

We demonstrate how this model can be used to design culturally appropriate interventions for members of the Deaf community on a variety of health topics.

Learning Objectives:
Describe three unique cultural characteristics of the Deaf Community List three factors that influence health disparities in the Deaf Community

Keywords: Deaf, Health Disparities

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I contributed to the synthesis of the literature on which this proposal is based
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.