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. © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
- hospital consultation
- sign language