oa SA Pharmaceutical Journal - Effective communication between healthcare professionals and deaf and hard-of-hearing patients : forum

Volume 77, Issue 6
  • ISSN : 2221-5875
  • E-ISSN: 2220-1017



The aim of this project was to facilitate easy recognition and improve effective communication skills between health care professionals and deaf and hard-of-hearing patients.

In order to determine if there was effective communication between healthcare professionals and deaf and hard-of-hearing patients, a questionnaire was administered to 40 patients at Lady Michaelis Community Health Centre identified as being deaf or hard-of-hearing - 20 patients collecting acute medicines and 20 patients collecting chronic medicines. Patients were asked whether they used sign language as a form of communication, whether they understood how to use their medication, whether they had any problems communicating with health care professionals and whether they had any preferences about how health care professionals communicated with them.
The majority of patients collecting acute (17/20) and chronic medicines (15/20) reported problems communicating with health professionals. Although 17/20 patients collecting chronic medicines used sign language, only 11/20 patients collecting acute medicines used this method. It appeared that patients relied on the instructions written on the medicine containers or on translators who could communicate with them in an appropriate manner.
In order to address this problem, two posters - one on how to identify a deaf person and one on how to talk to a deaf person - were created for health professionals. These can be easily duplicated and used in training programmes and as reminders.

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