Quality of Life Measures in the Deaf

  • J. Fellinger
  • D. Holzinger
  • J. Gerich
  • D. Goldberg
Reference work entry


Prelingual  deafness has a prevalence rate of 1 per 1,000 in the adult population. It entails far reaching communicative problems with profound consequences in cognitive, social and emotional development.

In that context the term “deaf” is seen from a cultural perspective. The use of sign language is the most important factor in establishing a deaf community.

As quality of life has never been assessed before in a larger deaf population an interactive computer-based assessment package for measuring quality of life and psychological distress in full self administration was developed.

The Brief version of the WHO Quality of Life (WHOQOL, Questionnaire, the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12, and five subscales of the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI, have been translated into sign language, videotaped and installed into the computer program ANIMAQU.

A total of 236 members of the deaf community in Upper Austria participated 2002/2003 (total number of registered members 502).

Reliability of the versions for the deaf was in an acceptable range for the WHOQOL-Bref and the GHQ-12. For the BSI the reliability was even higher than that of the general population.

The results of the WHOQOL-Bref and the BSI were compared with normative data from German-speaking populations, the GHQ data were compared with an Austrian normative sample.

The deaf sample had a significantly poorer quality of life than the general population for the physical and psychological  domains (p < 0.01) as measured by the WHOQOL-BREF. However, in the domain of social relationships no significant difference (p = 0.19) was demonstrated. All findings with the GHQ-12 and the BSI show much higher levels (p = 0.01) of  mental distress among the deaf.

Conclusion: Although a poorer quality of life and a higher level of mental distress is demonstrated the similarity to the general population in the domain social relationships can be regarded as an indicator of the ability of the deaf community to establish satisfying relationships based on a common communication system. For most deaf people sign language has that vital role.


Sign Language Mental Distress Deaf Child Interpersonal Sensitivity Brief Symptom Inventory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

List of Abbreviations:


Brief Symptom Inventory


General Health Questionnaire


level of significance


Quality of life


standard deviation


Bref World Health Organisation’s Quality of life questionnaire – brief version


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Fellinger
  • D. Holzinger
  • J. Gerich
  • D. Goldberg

There are no affiliations available

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