Background: Deaf persons experience communication barriers that may impact on their knowledge of cardiovascular disease (CVD); however, data measuring this deficit are limited. A comprehensive health survey of Deaf adults included questions on CVD knowledge.
Methods: Between November 2002 and March 2003, 203 Deaf adults participated in the survey, which was conducted via face-to-face interviews in American Sign Language. Questions assessed knowledge of heart attack and stroke symptoms, risk factors, and emergency response.
Results: Forty percent of respondents could not list any symptoms of a heart attack, while over 60% could not list any symptoms of a stroke. Less than half of respondents identified chest pain/pressure as a symptom of a heart attack. Only 61% reported that they would call 911 in response to cardiovascular disease symptoms. The median number of risk factors correctly identified by respondents was 3 of 6.
Conclusions: Knowledge of cardiovascular disease among Deaf respondents is low, and considerably lower than that of the general hearing population. The need to develop health education materials and programs for Deaf individuals is evident. Health care providers should be educated on Deaf culture and barriers in communication. Finally, efforts need to be made to assure that 911 is deaf-accessible.