An exploration of how health care professionals understand experiences of deafness

Danielle Ferndale, Bernadette Maria Watson, Louise Munro

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Findings from recent deaf education intervention programmes with health care professionals emphasise the importance of sociocultural dimensions of medicine, pointing to the need to further investigate health professionals’ current understandings of deafness. Situated within a social constructionist and critical realist framework, we investigated health professionals’ understandings of deafness and experiences of providing health services in Australia to d/Deaf people. Through an inductive thematic analysis of 18 individual interviews with medical or allied health professionals, we identified an overarching theme we labelled hearingness as privileged, whereby professionals accounted for the quality of the health services available to d/Deaf people in Australia. The professionals recognised the services as not good enough and, through relating their efforts to do the best they can, and describing how the situation could always be better, it was evident that the professionals were negotiating a larger health system that disadvantages the needs of d/Deaf people for the needs of people with hearingness. We discuss the implications of working within a system that privileges hearingness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)591-603
Number of pages13
JournalCritical Public Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Community and public health
  • critical realism
  • hearing/deafness
  • privilege
  • thematic analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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