Deafness Among Physicians and Trainees: A National Survey

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Abstract

Purpose

To describe the characteristics of and accommodations used by the deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHoH) physician and trainee population and examine whether these individuals are more likely to care for DHoH patients.

Method

Multipronged snowball sampling identified 86 potential DHoH physician and trainee participants. In July to September 2010, a Web-based survey investigated accommodations used by survey respondents. The authors analyzed participants’ demographics, accommodation and career satisfaction, sense of institutional support, likelihood of recommending medicine as a career, and current/anticipated DHoH patient population size.

Results

The response rate was 65% (56 respondents; 31 trainees and 25 practicing physicians). Modified stethoscopes were the most frequently used accommodation (n = 50; 89%); other accommodations included auditory equipment, note-taking, computer-assisted real-time captioning, signed interpretation, and oral interpretation. Most respondents reported that their accommodations met their needs well, although 2 spent up to 10 hours weekly arranging accommodations. Of 25 physicians, 17 reported primary care specialties; 7 of 31 trainees planned to enter primary care specialties. Over 20% of trainees anticipated working with DHoH patients, whereas physicians on average spent 10% of their time with DHoH patients. Physicians’ accommodation satisfaction was positively associated with career satisfaction and recommending medicine as a career.

Conclusions

DHoH physicians and trainees seemed satisfied with frequent, multimodal accommodations from employers and educators. These results may assist organizations in planning accommodation provisions. Because DHoH physicians and trainees seem interested in primary care and serving DHoH patients, recruiting and training DHoH physicians has implications for the care of this underserved population.

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