Inpatient Psychiatric Treatment of Deaf Adults: Demographic and Diagnostic Comparisons With Hearing Inpatients

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ObjectiveThis study examined the diagnostic and clinical features of deaf psychiatric inpatients.MethodsArchival clinical data for deaf and hard-of-hearing adults (N=30) were compared with data for a random sample of hearing adults (N=60) admitted to a state psychiatric hospital from 1998 to 2008.ResultsSignificant differences were found between deaf and hearing inpatient groups in the frequency of impulse control disorders (23% versus 2%), pervasive developmental disorders (10% versus 0%), substance use disorders (20% versus 45%), mild mental retardation (33% versus 3%), and personality disorders (17% versus 43%). The deaf group had a larger proportion with diagnoses of psychotic disorder not otherwise specified (17% versus 2%). Deaf inpatients had longer hospitalizations than hearing inpatients (17 months versus ten months).ConclusionsClinicians working with the underserved, understudied population of deaf and hard-of-hearing psychiatric inpatients should be aware of the cultural and linguistic differences in assessment and treatment and make efforts to modify their approach.

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