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September 13, 1995

Communicating With Deaf Patients

Author Affiliations

University of Michigan Medical Center Ann Arbor

JAMA. 1995;274(10):794. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530100034015

To the Editor.  —The little research that has been done on the health status of deaf and hard-of-hearing (D&HH) people suggests that they have altered health care utilization patterns and poor health status. The last National Health Interview Survey to study this in D&HH people revealed that they see physicians more often, have more bed days due to illness, and rate their health as poorer than persons with normal hearing.1 Our more recent data confirmed this and found it unclear whether this is due to poor physician-patient communication, inadequate health care information, coexisting chronic medical conditions, or cultural differences.2 The article by Drs Ebert and Heckerling3 is a welcome addition to the sparse literature on this problem that adds ammunition to the fact that there is poor physician communication with deaf patients.Most health care personnel know little about deafness and how D&HH people communicate.4 Physicians'

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