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Nurses with Sensory Disabilities: Their Perceptions and Characteristics


  • Leslie Neal-Boylan PhD CRRN APRN-BC,

    Professor of nursing, Corresponding authorSearch for more papers by this author
    • Leslie Neal-Boylan, PhD CRRN APRN-BC, is a professor of nursing at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, CT.

  • Kristopher Fennie PhD MSC MPHs,

    Research Scientist and LecturerSearch for more papers by this author
    • Kristopher Fennie, PhD MSC MPH, is a research scientist and lecturer at Yale University School of Nursing in New Haven, CT.

  • Sara Baldauf-Wagner MS APRN-BC CNM MSN

    Recent GraduateSearch for more papers by this author
    • Sara Baldauf-Wagner, MS APRN-BC CNM MSN (candidate), is a recent graduate of Yale University School of Nursing in New Haven, CT.


A survey design was used to explore the perceptions and characteristics of registered nurses (RNs) with sensory disabilities and their risk for leaving their jobs. An earlier study found that nurses with disabilities are leaving nursing and that employers do not appear to support these nurses. Work instability and the mismatch between a nurse's perceptions of his or her ability and the demands of their work increase risk for job retention problems. This study's convenience sample of U.S. RNs had hearing, vision, or communication disabilities. Participants completed a demographic form, three U.S. Census questions, and the Nurse-Work Instability Survey. Hospital nurses were three times more likely to be at risk for retention problems. Nurses with hearing disabilities were frustrated at work. Hearing difficulties increased with years spent working as a nurse. Many nurses with sensory disabilities have left nursing. Early intervention may prevent work instability and increase retention, and rehabilitation nurses are ideally positioned to lead early intervention programs.