BackgroundDeaf people experience health inequalities compared to hearing populations. The EQ-5D, a widely used, standardised, generic measure of health status which is available in over 100 languages, was recently translated into British Sign Language (BSL) and initial validation conducted. Using data from this previous study of the EQ-5D-5L BSL we aimed to assess (i) whether responses to the EQ-5D differed between a sample of Deaf BSL users and the general population (ii) whether socio-demographic characteristics and clinical measures were associated with EQ-5D index scores in Deaf BSL users and (iii) the impact of psychological distress and depression on health status in Deaf BSL users.
MethodsPublished population tariffs were applied to the EQ-5D-5L BSL, using the crosswalk methodology, to estimate health state values. Descriptive statistics (mean, SD, 95% CIs) compared Deaf BSL signer participants’ (n=92) responses to data from the general population. Descriptive statistics and linear regression analyses were used to identify associations between Deaf participants’ EQ-5D index scores, socio-demographic characteristics, physical health and depression. Descriptive statistics compared the BSL index scores for people with psychological distress/depression to those from two cross-sectional, population-based surveys.
ResultsUsing the EQ-5D, Deaf participants had lower mean health-state values (0.78; 95% CI 0.72 – 0.83; n=89) than people participating in the 2017 Health Survey for England (0.84; 95% CI 0.83 – 0.84; n=7,169). Unlike larger studies, such as the Health Survey for England sample, there was insufficient evidence to assess whether Deaf participants’ EQ-5D health state values were associated with their demographic characteristics. Nevertheless, analysis of the BSL study data indicated long-standing physical illness was associated with lower health-state values (OLS coefficient = -0.354; 95% CI -0.484, -0.224; p< 0.01; n=82). Forty-three percent of our Deaf participants had depression. Participants with depression had reduced health status (0.67; 95% CI 0.58 – 0.77; n=36) compared to those with no psychological distress or depression (0.87; 95% CI 0.61 – 0.67; n=36).
ConclusionsThe study highlights reduced health in the Deaf signing population, compared to the general population. Public health initiatives focused on BSL users, aiming to increase physical and mental health, are needed to address this gap.