An innovative and reliable way of measuring health-related quality of life and mental distress in the deaf community

  • Johannes Fellinger
  • Daniel Holzinger
  • Ulrike Dobner
  • Joachim Gerich
  • Roland Lehner
  • Gerhard Lenz
  • David Goldberg



Structured assessment of quality of life and mental distress in deaf people is difficult for various reasons. This paper describes the development and reliability of an interactive computer-based assessment package for measuring quality of life and psychological distress in the deaf population.


The Brief version of the WHO Quality of Life (WHOQOL) Questionnaire, the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) and the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) had been translated into sign-language and videotaped. A total of 236 members of the deaf community in Upper Austria participated by responding to a programme consisting of self-administered written and videotaped test-items presented to them on a notebook computer. The reliability of the various assessments was established on this large community sample.


When reliability of the versions for the deaf was compared with that of written versions of the same measures in general population samples, it was found to be somewhat lower, although still in an acceptable range, for the WHO-QOL and the GHQ-12. For the BSI, the reliability was even higher than that of the general population.


For deaf individuals whose preferred communication is sign language, quality of life and mental distress can be effectively and reliably assessed with the use of carefully translated and adapted common instruments.

Key words

quality of life deaf interactive video screening questionnaires mental health 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Angermeyer MC, Kilian R, Matschinger H (2000) WHOQOL-100 und WHOQOL-BREF. Handbuch für die deutschsprachige Version der WHO Instrumente zur Erfassung der Lebensqualität. GöttingenGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Derogatis LR, Spencer PM (1982) Brief symptom inventory: Administration, scoring and procedures manual I. BaltimoreGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Franke HG (2000) BSI-Brief Symptom Inventory von Derogatis LR (Kurzform der SCL-90-R)-Deutsche Version. Manual, Beltz Test GmbH, GöttingenGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Gelter I (1987) Wortschatz und Lesefähigkeit gehörloser Schüler. Der Sprachheilpädagoge 3:37–42Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Goldberg DP, Williams PA (1988) User’s Guide to the GHQ. Windsor. NFER NelsonGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Holt JA (1994) Stanford Achievement Test, 8th ed: reading comprehension subgroup results. Am Ann Deaf 138:172–175Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Katschnig H, Ladinser E, Scherer M, Sonneck G, Wancata J (2001) Österreichischer Psychiatriebericht 2001: Teil 1, Daten zur psychiatrischen und psychosozialen Versorgung der österreichischen Bevölkerung. Bundesministerium für soziale Sicherheit und Generationen, WienGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Linden M, Maier W, Achberger M, Herr R, Helmchen H, Benkert O (1996) Psychische Erkrankungen und ihre Behandlung in Allgemeinpraxen in Deutschland. Nervenarzt 67:205–215Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Lipton DS, Goldstein MF, Fahnbulleh FW, Gertz EN (1997) The interactive video questionnaire. A new technology for interviewing deaf persons. Am Ann Deaf 141(5):370–378Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Schein JD (1979) Multiply handicapped hearing impaired children. In: Bradford LJ, Hardy WG (eds) Hearing and hearing impairment. New York: Grune and StrattonGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Schmitz N, Kruse J, Tress W (1999) Psychometric properties of the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) in a German primary care sample. Acta Psychiatr Scand 100(6) :462–468PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Steinberg AG, Lipton DS, Eckhardt EH, Goldstein M, Sullivan JV (1998) The diagnostic interview schedule for deaf patients on interactive video: preliminary investigation. Am J Psychiatry 155(11):1603–1604Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    The WHOQOL Group (1998) Devolopment of the World Health Organization WHOQOL-BREF quality of life assessment. Psychol Med 28:551–558CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Üstun TB, Satorius N (1995) Mental Illness in General Health Care. An international Study. Chichester: John WileyGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Steinkopff Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johannes Fellinger
    • 1
  • Daniel Holzinger
    • 1
  • Ulrike Dobner
    • 1
  • Joachim Gerich
    • 2
  • Roland Lehner
    • 2
  • Gerhard Lenz
    • 3
  • David Goldberg
    • 4
  1. 1.Health Centre for the DeafHospital St. John of GodLinzAustria
  2. 2.Dept. of Sociology, Unit for empirical social researchJohannes Kepler UniversityLinzAustria
  3. 3.Dept. of PsychiatryUniv. of Vienna, Vienna General HospitalViennaAustria
  4. 4.Institute of PsychiatryKing’s CollegeLondonUK

Personalised recommendations