The world’s first large scale study of the health of Deaf people, compared with the hearing population, has been published in two medical journals today.
BMJ Open and the BJGP (British Journal of General Practice) both carry the results of the research. It revealed shocking inequality in treatment, which means that some Deaf people are at risk of reduced life expectancy.
The papers show that Deaf people are twice as likely to have undiagnosed high blood pressure as the rest of the population. In cases where they have been diagnosed, it’s three times more likely that their treatment isn’t working.
More than half of Deaf people with heart disease aren’t being treated properly, and the same is true of diabetes. Deaf people with high cholesterol are half as likely as hearing people to be on medication to bring it under control.
The causes include a lack of interpreters at consultations, inadequate booking procedures, and almost non-existent health information in sign language. Poor communication is leading to missed diagnoses and ineffective treatment.
“This is unintentional neglect, likely to lead to shortened lives”, says Steve Powell, Chief Executive of the Deaf Health Charity SignHealth. “A basic lack of knowledge on the part of health professionals is leaving a vulnerable community with inadequate healthcare”.
Health economists have estimated that the poor diagnosis and treatment are costing the NHS £30 million a year. SignHealth have suggested simple measures which professionals can adopt easily, to improve health outcomes, and save money.
The findings have influenced the forthcoming NHS Accessible Information Standard, which is designed to improve access and communication for patients who currently face difficulties with healthcare.
The research was commissioned by SignHealth, carried out by the University of Bristol, funded by a grant from the Big Lottery Fund.
You can read the BMJ Open paper here: http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/5/1/e006668.full
The BJGP paper can be read here: http://bjgp.org/content/65/631/95
The Limping Chicken is the UK’s deaf blogs and news website, and is the world’s most popular deaf blog. It is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.
Please note that the views of the writers are their own, and not necessarily the views of the Editor or site as a whole. Read our disclaimer here.
- Phonak: innovative technology and products in hearing acoustics
- Ai-Media: Remote captioning. 5 tips for travelling with hearing loss!
- Bellman & Symfon: home alerting solutions
- Deaf Umbrella: sign language interpreting and communications support
- Clarion: BSL/English interpreting and employment services
- Appa: Communication services for Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing people
- Signature: Find out about the Signature conference here.
- SignVideo: Instant BSL video interpreting online
- 121 Captions: captioning and speech-to-text services
- Hearing Direct: Online hearing aids
- The National Theatre: Captioned and BSL accessible theatre in London
- Doncaster School for the Deaf: education for Deaf children
- SignLive: Online video interpreting for Deaf people
- Royal School for the Deaf, Derby: Residential education for deaf children
- RAD Tax Advice: Tax and Tax Credit info for Deaf people
- Deaf Independent: Deaf care and support services
- Signworld: online BSL learning and teaching materials
- Performance Interpreting: BSL interpreting at concerts
- National Deaf Children's Society: The leading charity for deaf children
- DCAL: Find out how to study at the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre, London
- cSeeker: Deaf-led educational communication support service
- Signed Culture: Advocating for BSL access to arts and culture
- Sarah Gatford: BSL interpreting, training and consultancy
- SignHealth: healthcare charity for Deaf people
- CJ Interpreting: communication support in BSL
- Sign Solutions:, language and learning
- Action Deafness Communications: sign language and Red Dot online video interpreting
- BSLcourses.co.uk: Provider of online BSL courses
- British Society for Mental Health and Deafness: Promoting positive mental health for deaf people
- deafPLUS: Money advice line in BSL
- Hamilton Lodge School in Brighton: education for Deaf children
- Lipspeaker UK: specialist lipspeaking support
- Ozen: Australian hearing aid specialists
- Elmfield School, Bristol: Inclusive education for Deaf pupils
- Exeter Deaf Academy: education for Deaf children