Accessibility of medical and psychosocial services following disasters and other traumatic events: experiences of Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals in Denmark

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Purpose: This descriptive study sought to explore barriers faced by Deaf and hard-of-hearing (D/HH) individuals in Denmark when accessing medical and psychosocial services following large-scale disasters and individual traumatic experiences. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine D/HH individuals who had experienced at least one disaster or other traumatic event. Results: Difficulties were encountered during interactions with first response and healthcare services, which centered on: (1) lack of Deaf awareness among professionals, (2) problems accessing interpreter services, (3) professionals relying on hearing relatives to disseminate information, and (4) professionals who were unwilling to adjust their speech or try different forms of communication. Barriers reported in relation to accessing psychosocial services included: (1) lack of all-Deaf or hard-of-hearing support groups, and (2) limited availability of crisis psychologists who are trained to service the needs of the hearing impaired. Suggestions for improvements to service provision were provided, including a list of practical recommendations for professionals. Conclusions: This study has identified significant gaps in post-disaster service provision for D/HH individuals. Results can inform policy makers and other authorities in the position to enhance existing services and/or develop new services for this vulnerable target population. Implications for Rehabilitation Being Deaf or hard-of-hearing compromises a person’s ability to obtain and share vital information during times of disaster. Medical and psychosocial services are expected to play critical response roles in times of disaster, and, should be properly equipped to assist Deaf and hard-of-hearing (D/HH) individuals. In a relatively small sample, this study highlights barriers faced by D/HH individuals in Denmark when accessing first response, healthcare, and psychosocial services following large-scale disasters and individual traumatic events, all of which centered on communication problems and resulted in suboptimal care. Regarding rehabilitation after disasters, evidence-based information about how to service the heterogeneous communication needs of D/HH populations should be disseminated to professionals, and preferably incorporated into training programs.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftDisability and Rehabilitation
Vol/bind39
Udgave nummer24
Sider (fra-til)2468-2476
ISSN0963-8288
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 2017

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