Health profile of Deaf Canadians: Analysis of the Canada Community Health Survey

Woodcock, K., Pole, J.D, 2007. Health profile of Deaf Canadians: Analysis of the Canada Community Health SurveyCanadian Family Physician 53:2140–2141 e.7.

To profile the health of deaf and hard-of-hearing Canadians in relation to the population as a whole. Using data from the Canada Community Health Survey 1.1, across-sectional survey conducted by Statistics Canada with a total of 131,535 respondents, a series of logistic regression models was fitted to estimate the odds, compared with the general population, of respondents classified as having hearing problems reporting the presence of various chronic health outcomes; of their utilizing the health care system; of their engaging in certain health promotion activities; and of their reporting certain perceptions about their overall health. For each odds ratio, 95% confidence intervals are provided. All analyses were adjusted for age and sex with some analyses being restricted to appropriate age ranges or having further adjustments made, depending on the outcomes. In addition to indications of deafness or hearing loss, this study examined health care utilization, several commonly accepted health outcomes, engagement in health promotion activities, and perceptions of overall health. Approximately 4% of respondents in the cross-sectional survey were considered to have hearing problems. The prevalence of hearing problems increased with age, with males having a slightly higher prevalence of hearing problems compared with females (4.52% versus 3.53%). Respondents classified as having hearing problems, whether hearing loss or deafness, were more likely to report adverse health conditions and low levels of physical activity, and to experience higher rates of depression. Respondents classified as having hearing problems were not more likely to smoke or to drink excessively. Communication is essential to both health promotion and health care delivery. Deafness-both the disability and the culture-creates barriers to communication. Individual practitioners can and should consider the communication needs of individual patients with hearing loss or deafness to avoid barriers to optimal health.

Author: Kathryn Woodcock

Dr. Kathryn Woodcock is Professor at Toronto's Ryerson University, teaching, researching, and consulting in the area of human factors engineering / ergonomics particularly applied to amusement rides and attractions (, and to broader occupational and public safety issues of performance, error, investigation and inspection, and to disability and accessibility.