• Marija Ljubicic University of Zadar, General Hospital Zadar,Croatia
  • Sanda Zubcic General Hospital Zadar, Intensive Coronary Care Unit, Zadar, Croatia
  • Sonja Sare University of Zadar, Medical School Ante Kuzmanica, Croatia
Keywords: deaf people, nurses, communication, health institution


Introduction:: Upon arrival into a health institution, a deaf person is exposed to a higher stress level. They are at risk of receiving inadequate health care and health-related information due to limitations in communication between the deaf person and the health care workers. Despite the awareness of the presence of communication difficulties, research about the ways of communication between nurses and deaf people hasn’t been sufficiently presented. This article focuses on the ways in which nurses and deaf people communicate, the difficulties in communication arising from that; emotional reactions and nurses’ interest in the manual alphabet and sign language, and the perception about the need for an interpreter of sign language in a health institution.

Objectives: The primary objective of this cross-sectional study is to examine the difficulties in communication upon a deaf person’s arrival into a health institution.

Methods: The original paper-and-pencil questionnaire for nurses includes questions about the communication problems upon the arrival of deaf people into health institutions. Differences between study variables were assessed for significance using the Mann-Whitney U test and Kruskal-Wallis test. The associations between variables were explored using Spearman rank correlation coefficients.

Results: The results show that 65% of the nurses think that the communication problem is strongly pronounced as the problem is the inability of deaf people to respond when called (65%) and difficulties in understanding (40%). The interest of nurses for problems of deaf people affects the manifestation of difficulties and the understanding of messages. The most frequent way of communication is showing (95.1%) and writing (62.5%). There is no significant difference in relation to age (p=0.103), sex (p=0.473), level of education (p=0.901) and the length of service (p=0.062).

Conclusion: The obtained results show how pronounced the communication difficulties between nurses and deaf people are. An interpreter in a health institution is necessary for effective communication. There is a high priority need for quality education of nurses about the ways of communicating with deaf people.


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