Communication difficulties experienced by deaf male patients during their in-hospital stay

Studies available have described several specific issues affecting healthcare accessibility by deaf people, but to date, no research has reported the experience of deaf patients with in-hospital communication | Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences

The aim of the study was to explore the communication experience of deaf patients with regard to their in-hospital stay. A purposeful sample of participants was selected. The data collection process was based on a focus group. The focus groups were conducted in Italian sign language and videorecorded; subsequently, the entire conversation was faithfully transcribed. A qualitative content analysis of the transcription was performed and the findings are reported using the Consolidated Criteria for Reporting Qualitative Research approach.

Four themes have emerged:

  • experiencing a common vulnerability: the need for reciprocal understanding and sensitivity,
  • being outside the comfort zone: feeling discriminated against once again,
  • perceiving a lack of consonance between care and needs and
  • developing a sense of progressively disempowerment.

The experience of deaf individuals during their in-hospital stay may be critical: they are exposed to protracted communication and interaction with healthcare providers and an environment that is not prepared and designed for these vulnerable patients. Two levels of strategies should be identified, implemented and developed to increase the quality of communication with deaf people during hospitalisation, both at the hospital/health system level and at the healthcare professional/clinical level.

Full reference: Sirch, L. et al. (2017) Communication difficulties experienced by deaf male patients during their in-hospital stay: findings from a qualitative descriptive study. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences. Vol. 31 (no. 2) pp. 368–377


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