Aotearoa New Zealand Deaf Women’s Perspectives on Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening
AIMS: Since the introduction of both cervical and breast screening programmes in Aotearoa New Zealand, mortality rates have dropped. Both screening programmes track women's engagement, but neither capture the level of engagement of Deaf women who are New Zealand Sign Language users or their experiences in these screening programmes. Our paper addresses this knowledge deficit and provides insights that will benefit health practitioners when providing screening services to Deaf women.
METHODS: We used qualitative interpretive descriptive methodology to investigate the experiences of Deaf women who are New Zealand Sign Language users. A total of 18 self-identified Deaf women were recruited to the study through advertisements in key Auckland Deaf organisations. The focus group interviews were audiotaped and transcribed. The data was then analysed using thematic analysis.
RESULTS: Our analysis indicated that a woman's first screening experience may be made more comfortable when staff are Deaf aware and a New Zealand Sign Language interpreter is used. Our findings also showed that when an interpreter is present, extra time is required for effective communication, and that the woman's privacy needs to be ensured.
CONCLUSION: This paper provides insights, as well as some communication guidelines and strategies, which may be useful to health providers when engaging with Deaf women who use New Zealand Sign Language to communicate. The use of New Zealand Sign Language interpreters in health settings is regarded as best practice, however their presence needs to be negotiated with each woman.