Track 4 - Health Equity

Sharing Session - 30 Minutes

E7 - Health Care Experiences of People Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing: A Community Health Needs Assessment

Wednesday, July 11
1:30 PM - 2:00 PM
Location: Balcony K

People who are Deaf, Deaf-Blind, Hard of Hearing, or Late-Deafened (D/DB/HOH/LD) are at risk for marginalization and disparities in health and access to healthcare, but are often excluded from public health surveillance and survey efforts. To better understand the health needs and barriers to care for people who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Massachusetts, we conducted a health needs assessment. In the words of one participant, “I’ve seen that the treatment is not the same for Deaf people; they shove us aside.” We conducted a community forum in Boston and administered a community survey to D/DB/HOH/LD people in Massachusetts. The survey revealed issues of top importance to participants, including finding employment opportunities, finding affordable housing, finding a doctor who is communication-accessible, finding a doctor who understands how to work with Deaf patients, and finding a mental health provider. Qualitative analysis of the community forum discussion elucidated challenges and barriers to health and health care access experienced by the D/DB/HOH/LD community on a daily basis. Themes include interactions between the healthcare system and marginalization (e.g., systemic, attitudinal, and exclusionary barriers), diminished care quality and unmet needs (e.g., time delays and communication gaps), and challenges living independently in a community (e.g., managing one's own life, health, and financial stress). Qualitative findings will be illustrated with quotations from participants. Our method provides a template for future engagement and assessment of marginalized populations and suggests a way forward for community-engaged public health.

Keywords

Community Health Assessment, Health Equity, Advocacy/Policy Work

Lauren D. Smith, MPH

Rsearch Associate
Brandeis University

Lauren Smith is a Research Associate at the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy in the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. She has over 10 years experience implementing public health policy-related research studies and has recently conducted several health needs assessments of people with disabilities in Massachusetts. She is currently working on two NIH-funded R01 studies on pregnancy in women with disabilities. She has a Master's of Public Health from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in Amherst, MA and a Bachelor's of Science in electronic media, arts and communications from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY.

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