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Deaf Community Analysis for Health Education Priorities


  • Elaine G. Jones, R.N., Ph.D., is Associate Professor, The University of Arizona, College of Nursing, Tucson, Arizona. Ralph Renger, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor, College of Public Health, The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona. Rob Firestone, B.A., Community Outreach Program for the Deaf, Tucson, Arizona.

* Elaine G. Jones, The University of Arizona, College of Nursing, 1305 N. Martin, Room 411, Tucson, AZ 85721-0203. E-mail:


Abstract  Deaf persons' access to health-related information is limited by barriers to spoken or written language: they cannot overhear information; they have limited access to television, radio, and other channels for public information; and the average reading level of Deaf adults is at a 3rd to 4th grade level. However, literature searches revealed no published reports of community analysis focusing specifically on health education priorities for Deaf communities. A seven-step community analysis was conducted to learn the health education priorities in Arizona Deaf communities and to inform development of culturally relevant health education interventions in Deaf communities. The word “Deaf rdquo; is capitalized to reflect the cultural perspective of the Deaf community. A 14-member Deaf Health Committee collected data using multimethods that included review of state census data, review of national health priorities, key informant interviews, discussions with key community groups, a mail survey (n = 20), and semistructured interviews conducted in sign language with 111 Deaf adults. The community diagnosis with highest priority for health education was vulnerability to cardiovascular disease (CVD). Following completion of the community analysis, a heart-health education intervention (The Deaf Heart Health Intervention) was developed using a train-the-trainer, community health worker model. If this model proves to be effective in addressing vulnerability to CVD, then a similar protocol could be employed to address other health concerns identified in the Deaf community analysis.