Deaf patients in the medical imaging department – a qualitative study
Background: Approximately one in seven of the British population has some degree of hearing loss. Studies have found that the deaf or hard of hearing often find communication in a health setting unsatisfactory. The aim of this study was to investigate the experiences of deaf people in the diagnostic imaging department.
Methods: A semi-structured interview technique was used with small numbers of radiographers and deaf patients. Transcripts were analysed using thematic content analysis.
Results: Deaf patients experienced difficulties at reception and with the system for calling patients. Examinations that required the patient to follow verbal instructions caused communication problems for both patients and radiographers. A high proportion of the deaf subjects had had an MRI scan, and nearly all of them found this a distressing experience. Radiographers had some awareness of communicating with the deaf, although nearly all significantly overestimated the percentage of words understood by patients who lip-read.
Conclusion: Patients experienced problems with communication. In some cases these were such that informed consent may not have been given. Recommendations made for future practice include deaf awareness training for all staff, the installation of equipment that gives visual signals for breath holding, and extra time allowed for explanation to deaf patients before imaging procedures.
Key Words: Deaf; radiography; communication; informed consent.
c1 Correspondence to: B. T. Channon, School of Allied Health Professions, Faculty of Health and Social Care, Glenside Campus, University of the West of England, Blackberry Hill, Stapleton, Bristol, BS16 1DD, UK. Tel: 144 (0)1173 448570; Fax: 144 (0)1173 448408, Email: Brian.email@example.com