Preferences for communication in clinic from deaf people: a cross-sectional study

A. Middleton, G. H. Turner, M. Bitner-Glindzicz, P. Lewis, M. Richards, A. Clarke, D. Stephens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (SciVal)


Aims and objectives: To explore the preferences of deaf people for communication in a hospital consultation.

Methods: Design - cross-sectional survey, using a structured, postal questionnaire. Setting - survey of readers of two journals for deaf and hard of hearing people. Participants - 999 self-selected individuals with hearing loss in the UK, including those who use sign language and those who use speech. Main outcome measures - preferred mode of communication.

Results: A total of 11% of participants preferred to use sign language within everyday life, 70% used speech and 17% used a mixture of sign and speech. Within a clinic setting, 50% of the sign language users preferred to have a consultation via a sign language interpreter and 43% indicated they would prefer to only have a consultation directly with a signing health professional; 7% would accept a consultation in speech as long as there was good deaf awareness from the health professional, indicated by a knowledge of lip-reading/speech-reading. Of the deaf speech users, 98% preferred to have a consultation in speech and of this group 71% indicated that they would only accept this if the health professional had good deaf awareness. Among the participants who used a mixture of sign language and speech, only 5% said they could cope with a consultation in speech with no deaf awareness whereas 46% were accepting of a spoken consultation as long as it was provided with good deaf awareness; 30% preferred to use an interpreter and 14% preferred to have a consultation directly with a signing health professional.

Conclusions: The hospital communication preferences for most people with deafness could be met by increasing deaf awareness training for health professionals, a greater provision of specialized sign language interpreters and of health professionals who can use fluent sign language directly with clients in areas where contact with deaf people is frequent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)811-817
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Evaluation in Clinial Practice
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010


  • interpreter
  • deafness
  • communication
  • hospital consultation
  • sign language


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