Committee ChairBadger, Terry A.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractAims were to describe depressive symptoms among culturally Deaf adults, describe the words in American Sign Language (ASL) that best express depressive symptoms, and describe shared meaning of depressive symptoms. Primary care providers commonly discuss depressive symptoms with clients, which can lead to earlier identification of those at risk for depression. However, providers may not discuss depressive symptoms with Deaf clients due to communication barriers. Health care providers are rarely familiar with ASL, and depression screening tools are not easily translated from English to ASL. There has been no investigation about Deaf adult's experiences with depressive symptoms or the signs used to describe those experiences. The study method employed hermeneutic interviews and analysis. Nine culturally Deaf adults were interviewed three times each, and certified interpreters were used to assist with ASL communication. After reviewing each interview with the interpreter for accuracy of translation, text was generated through word-for-word transcription and researcher observations; text was then read to obtain a broad understanding of the experience. Findings: Symptoms described by Deaf adults paralleled those of hearing adults. Four shared meanings emerged: 1) Feeling depressed, defined as the physical and emotional manifestations of depression and the ASL signs and phrases used to communicate these; 2) Emotional chaos leading to depression, defined as experiences of childhood, adolescence, and adulthood that led to feelings of depression such as feeling different, feeling isolated from family and peers, feeling excluded, and feeling limited by others; 3) Reaching out, defined as learning to walk in the Deaf world while also navigating the hearing world; 4) I am Deaf - I am not broken! Conclusions: This research provided a description of depressive symptoms as may occur among culturally Deaf adults, which may lead to increased understanding of depression as experienced by and expressed by members of the Deaf culture. In this way, improved communication and understanding between health care providers and Deaf adults can be optimized. Such knowledge may potentiate the earlier identification of culturally Deaf adults at risk for depression in the primary care setting, thereby reducing morbidity and mortality in this underserved population.