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Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 40, Issue 9, pp 737–742 | Cite as

Mental distress and quality of life in a deaf population

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

Abstract

Background

High risks of mental illness within the deaf community are reported. The assessment of the level of mental distress and quality of life in the deaf community is difficult due to communication problems in spoken and written language. The deaf community is characterized by the use of sign language.

Methods

A new measure of acceptable reliability using sign language is described. The interactive computerised package including special versions of the World Health Organisation's Brief Quality of Life questionnaire (WHOQOL-BREF), the 12-Item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) and five subscales of the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) was administered to a large community sample of deaf people (n=236), and results were compared with normative data for German-speaking hearing people.

Results

The deaf sample has a significantly poorer quality of life than the general population for the physical and psychological domains (p<0.01) as measured by the WHOQOL-BREF. However, in the domain of social relationships, no significant difference (p=0.19) was demonstrated. All findings with the GHQ-12 and the BSI show much higher levels (p=0.01) of emotional distress among the deaf.

Conclusion

Although a poorer quality of life and a higher level of mental distress are demonstrated, the similarity to the general population in the domain social relationships shows that this does not affect all domains. These findings show the need for easily accessible health services for the deaf which offer sensitive communication with them.

Key words

quality of life GHQ BSI WHOQOL-BREF deaf community subjects psychiatric screening mental health 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The study was significantly supported by the “Fonds Gesundes Österreich” and the Government of Upper Austria. Special thanks are given to the Deaf Association of Upper Austria (president: Prof. Peter Dimmel) for close cooperation. 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111 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Copyright information

© Springer-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 Psychiatry, Vienna General HospitalUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria
  4. 4.Institute of PsychiatryKing's CollegeLondonUK

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