Deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) populations are understudied in health services research and underserved in healthcare systems. Existing data indicate that adult DHH patients are more likely to use the emergency department (ED) for less emergent conditions than non-DHH patients. However, the lack of research focused on this population's ED utilization impedes the development of health promotion and quality improvement interventions to improve patient health and quality outcomes. The purpose of this study was to develop a conceptual model describing patient and non-patient (e.g., community, health system, provider) factors influencing ED utilization and ED care processes among DHH people. We conducted a critical review and used Andersen's Behavioral Model of Health Services Use and the PRECEDE-PROCEED Model to classify factors based on their theoretical and/or empirically described role. The resulting Conceptual Model of Emergency Department Utilization Among Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Patients provides predisposing, enabling, and reinforcing factors influencing DHH patient ED care seeking and ED care processes. The model highlights the abundance of DHH patient and non-DHH patient enabling factors. This model may be used in quality improvement interventions, health services research, or in organizational planning and policymaking to improve health outcomes for DHH patients.
Keywords: conceptual model; critical review; deaf; emergency department; hard of hearing; health behavior; hearing loss.