Inadequate health care is received by thousands of deaf patients in the UK because they are struggling to communicate with their health care providers, according to an article released on October 1, 2008 in BMJ.

According to the article, nine million people in the UK are estimated to be hard of hearing, which is almost one-sixth of the population. Studies have shown 70% of deaf patients do not have interpreters present in consultations, and 28% limit visits to the general practitioners because they fear poor communication.

This is especially true for deaf individuals with mental health problems, which accounts for more than three million deaf people at some point in their lives. This means that some 40% of deaf people suffer from mental health problems in contrast with 25% of the general population.

The term deaf is defined as individuals who are born deaf and prefer to communicate in British Sign Language. Michael Paddock and colleagues from Kings College London School of Medicine and South West London and St George’s Mental Healthcare NHS Trust explored the general lack of awareness of deaf issues and the deficit in communication support for deaf people.

A sensory awareness program has been developed and implemented  as part of the medical curriculum in King’s College London, providing students with the skills necessary to enhance communication with Deaf and hearing-impaired patients. This includes training in behaviors such as checking hearing aids, and instilling habits that maximize the communication of patients who rely on lipreading. The module has a section titled Deaf Awareness and British Sign Language.

Written by Anna Sophia McKenney
Copyright: Medical News Today

[Source: Medical News Today]