Study: How do deaf adults use online health info

RIT researcher investigates trends in deaf adults’ online health information usage

Poorna Kushalnagar

A Rochester Institute of Technology researcher is investigating how deaf adults, proficient in American Sign Language, use the Internet for health-related information.

Access to health communication has expanded during the last decade, providing the public with more articles, illustrations and health videos than ever before, said Poorna Kushalnagar, health psychologist and research associate professor in RIT’s Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science and director of the Deaf Health and Communication and Quality of Life Center.

“Changes in the health communication environment over time appear to influence the way individuals and general populations engage in their health and health care,” Kushalnagar said. “We want to know whether the trends are similar for deaf individuals who use American Sign Language.”

Kushalnagar won a $438,104 grant from the National Institutes of Health to conduct the three-year study and create a biennial Health Information National Trends Survey for ASL users. The HINTS program collects data about trends in health communication, and how the American public perceives cancer risks and seeks cancer-related information. HINTS was developed by the Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch of the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences.

“We will use the data to improve the way health information is disseminated to the deaf community,” Kushalnagar said. “Some people might need training on using the Internet to access deaf-friendly health websites. Other people might benefit from workshops on how to use health information on the Internet.”

Questions cover Internet use, patient-physician communication, cancer health and perception and health status. Kushalnagar’s team has been translated into videos with a native ASL user and adapted for deaf individuals who use accessible technology and services. The survey, conducted online, will remain open until early 2018. Interested participants should go to http://deafhealthqol.cis.rit.edu/?action=hints-asl.

“My research team at RIT includes research coordinators and several undergraduate research assistants from software engineering, psychology and criminal justice programs,” Kushalnagar said. “My team also includes four deaf interviewers who go out in the deaf community throughout the United Sates and recruit hard-to-reach individuals, such as those who live in small towns or areas that are medically less accessible.”

Consultants on the HINTS-ASL project include Georgia Sadler, professor of surgery at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and associate director for Community Outreach at the UCSD Moores Cancer Center; Raylene Paludneviciene, professor of psychology at Gallaudet University; and Lauren Searls, registered nurse at the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Wilmot Cancer Institute.

Topics
deaf community
health
liberal arts
science
diversity
research

Recommended News

  • March 17, 2019

    Outside of brick building with glass entryway and cube scultpure, taken at dusk.

    RIT/NTID to expand education and training through DeafTEC Resource Center

    The National Science Foundation has awarded $1.65 million to DeafTEC: Technological Education Center for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students, which will be used to transition the program into a resource center. The goal of the DeafTEC Resource Center is to increase the number of deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals in highly skilled technician jobs in which there continues to be underrepresentation and underutilization of such individuals in the workplace.

  • March 17, 2019

    Video game graphic in 8-bit style of a city with text: Ball of Doom

    RIT heads to Game Developers Conference 2019

    More than 100 RIT students, faculty, alumni and staff are visiting San Francisco this week to attend Game Developers Conference 2019, the world’s largest professional gaming industry event of the year. The RIT MAGIC Spell Studios booth is displaying four games created at RIT.

  • March 13, 2019

    Head-and-shoulders view of researcher wearing maroon top and cardigan

    RIT Associate Professor Suzanne O’Handley nationally recognized for mentorship

    RIT Associate Professor Suzanne O’Handley has been selected by the Council on Undergraduate Research and the Goldwater Scholarship Foundation as the 2019 CUR-Goldwater Scholars Faculty Mentor Awardee. O’Handley, a faculty member in RIT’s School of Chemistry and Materials Science, was chosen from 10 finalists for her considerable achievements as a dynamic scholar, teacher and mentor.