Deaf patients who use American Sign Language receive more preventive care if their clinician also uses sign language
Research Activities, December 2011, No. 376
Linguistic differences pose a challenge for deaf American Sign Language (ASL) users and the clinicians who care for them. Use of the same language by clinicians and patients (linguistic concordance) is an important determinant of whether patients seek, understand, and adhere to providers' preventive services recommendations. In an ASL-accessible survey of 89 deaf respondents, those with an ASL-fluent clinician were more likely to report a greater number of preventive services, when compared to those with a non-ASL-fluent clinician. However, influenza vaccination was the only one of three preventive services included in the survey to be individually significantly associated with ASL-concordant communication, according to a team of researchers from the University of Rochester. Their analysis included three non-gender-specific preventive services (influenza vaccination in previous 12 months, if ever colonoscopy/sigmoidoscopy, and cholesterol screening) that were recommended for adults aged 50-75 in 2008. The survey respondents included 89 deaf persons in this age group.
The researchers believe that increasing the number of clinicians fluent in ASL and expanding their geographic reach through the use of tele-health technology would likely improve use of health care services and health in this underserved language-minority population. This study was supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS15700).
See "Impact of communication on preventive services among deaf American Sign Language users," by Michael M. McKee, M.D., M.P.H., Steve L. Barnett, M.D., Robert C. Block M.D., M.P.H., and Thomas A. Pearson, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine 41(1), pp. 75-79, 2011.