Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Public Health


Nicoletta Alexander


Trends of obesity increased over the last 3 decades with the obesity rate doubling from 1980 to 2010. People with disability are more likely to experience health disparities including obesity compared to the general population. Yet research on the determinants of obesity such as self-efficacy, hearing levels, and deaf acculturation styles among those who are deaf or hard of hearing (HoH) is limited. This cross-sectional study, using the social cognitive theory framework, examined BMI and self-efficacy differences between deaf/HoH adults and hearing adults, aged 20 years and older. This study also examined the associations between BMI or self-efficacy and factors of hearing level or deaf acculturation style using the Health Belief and Deaf Acculturation Scale surveys, respectively. A total of 241 participants from Gallaudet University participated in this study. Independent sample t tests and multiple linear regressions were used. There were no differences in BMI (t = -0.285, p = 0.777) and nutritional and physical activity self-efficacy (t = -0.962, p = 0.338 and t =0.766, p = 0.446) between deaf/HoH adults and hearing adults. Among deaf/HoH adults, there were no associations between obesity as well as self-efficacy and factors of average hearing level and deaf acculturation style. This study offers evidence to the literature regarding the relationships between obesity or self-efficacy and factors of average hearing level or deaf acculturation styles among deaf/HoH adults. In addition, this study provided implications for social change as a basis for further research and reducing obesity through adopting current obesity programs while ensuring communication and information access for all deaf/HoH adults with varying levels of hearing and acculturation styles.