Background: During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a rapid increase in the amount of information about the disease and SARS-CoV-2 on the internet. If the language used in video messages is not clear or understandable to deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) people with a high school degree or less, this can cause confusion and result in information gaps among DHH people during a health emergency.
Objective: The aim of this study is to investigate the relationship between DHH people's perception of the effectiveness of physical distancing and contagiousness of an asymptomatic person.
Methods: This is a cross-sectional survey study on DHH people's perceptions about COVID-19 (N=475). Items pertaining to COVID-19 knowledge were administered to US deaf adults from April 17, 2020, to May 1, 2020, via a bilingual American Sign Language/English online survey platform.
Results: The sample consisted of 475 DHH adults aged 18-88 years old, with 74% (n=352) identifying as White and 54% (n=256) as female. About 88% (n=418) of the sample felt they knew most things or a lot about physical distancing. This figure dropped to 72% (n=342) for the question about the effectiveness of physical distancing in reducing the spread of COVID-19 and 70% (n=333) for the question about the contagiousness of an infected person without symptoms. Education and a knowledge of the effectiveness of physical distancing significantly predicted knowledge about the contagiousness of an asymptomatic individual. Race, gender, and age did not emerge as significant predictors.
Conclusions: This results of this study point to the strong connection between education and coronavirus-related knowledge. Education-related disparities can be remedied by making information fully accessible and easily understood during emergencies and pandemics.
Keywords: COVID-19; asymptomatic individual; coronavirus; deaf; hard of hearing; misinformation; perception; physical distancing; sign language; social media.
©Raylene Paludneviciene, Tracy Knight, Gideon Firl, Kaela Luttrell, Kota Takayama, Poorna Kushalnagar. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (http://www.jmir.org), 25.02.2021.