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Risk perception and perceived self-efficacy of deaf and hard-of-hearing seniors and young adults in emergencies

Alina Engelman, DrPH, MPH, Susan L. Ivey, MD, MHSA, Winston Tseng, PhD, Linda Neuhauser, DrPH, MPH


Objectives: The authors explored the factors influencing risk perception and perceived self-efficacy before and during an emergency for deaf and hard-of-hearing (Deaf/HH) seniors and young adults.

Methods: The authors collected demographic survey data and conducted four focus groups with 38 Deaf/HH residents of the San Francisco Bay Area; two groups were with young adults (ages 18-35), including one group of college students and one group of young professionals, and two were with older adults (ages 50-90).

Results: Significant differences were found between Deaf/HH young adults and seniors in both the sources of self-efficacy and risk perception and their attitudes toward preparedness. All groups demonstrated high resilience. Deaf/HH young professionals expressed more concern about their risk in an emergency than Deaf/HH college students. Alternately, the risk perception of Deaf/HH older adults was often rooted in their past experiences (survival of past emergencies, inaccessibility of communications during drills).

Conclusions: Policy implications include the need to dedicate more resources to increasing accessibility and relevance of emergency communications technology for Deaf/HH populations. This could help increase adaptability before, during, and after emergencies among all groups of Deaf/HH people, particularly among young Deaf/HH professionals.


deaf, hard-of-hearing, disability, disasters, accessibility, emergencies, communication, emergency preparedness, risk perception, self-efficacy, qualitative methods, elderly, seniors, young adults

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