It is great to see the world’s leading medical journal recognising the health inequalities faced by Deaf people. The journal published a main article on mental health, a commentary piece which looked at health generally, and an editorial. It also devoted the front page to the subject – which shows how important they feel the issue is.
The highly respected journal also made the commentary available in BSL. This is the first time they have made content available in BSL.
SignHealth’s chief executive, Steve Powell, was a co-author of the commentary (along with Dr Andrew Alexander and Dr Paddy Ladd). Steve said, “This is an important step forward. We have spent a long time saying the health of Deaf people is important. To now be recognised by The Lancet makes a real difference. Health professionals can no longer pretend that the health of Deaf people is not important. They have been set a challenge. SignHealth will be making sure they now try to improve services for their Deaf patients.”
A big ‘thank you’ to everyone who did the online survey and Bupa medicals. The online survey has now finished and the results will shortly be available here. The BUPA medicals will be finished soon and we will be inviting 50 volunteers for interviews about their experiences of healthcare. The medicals and interviews are funded by the BIG Lottery.
Why research is needed
We know that deaf people are more likely to experience mental health problems than hearing people. Evidence from Austria suggests that deaf people are also more likely to experience physical health problems.
Health services do not provide equal treatment for deaf people. That is why SignHealth wants to work with the NHS to make sure their services are accessible and fair. It’s also why we want to work with deaf people to give them important information about healthy living.
However, research is needed to highlight the problem. Health services will not address the problem unless they are given the evidence. The DeafHealth project hopes to produce this evidence.
DeafHealth will be the biggest deaf study in the UK. It will look at the health of deaf people and compare this to the health of hearing people. It will also look at the experiences of deaf people and compare these, e.g. communication problems, lack of respect, had to wait longer.