Date of Conferral
Previous research has concluded that hearing loss is related to psychological risk factors in a person that could potentially increase feelings of disconnect or isolation. However, the gap in literature and lack of knowledge regarding social disconnectedness and perceived isolation specifically for deaf/hard of hearing women makes it difficult for clinicians to develop appropriate programs to assist this population. The purpose of this study was to contribute information regarding the effects of hearing loss on social disconnectedness and perceived isolation to help clinicians create proper treatment plans to better assist the deaf/hard of hearing with negative feelings (e.g., loneliness, depression) resulting from those conditions. The dialogue and psychosocial theories provided the best foundation for this study as to how hearing loss can affect isolation and disconnectedness. The design of this quantitative study included a survey created from the social disconnectedness and perceived isolation scales for 97 participants who were deaf/hard of hearing (n = 45) or hearing (n = 52) to examine differences in isolation and disconnectedness. An independent-samples t test was utilized, and statistically significant findings showed that hard of hearing women who were 18 to 49 years old experienced more feelings of social disconnectedness than hearing women in the same age group, and that hearing women 18 and older and 50 and older experienced more feelings of perceived isolation more than their deaf/hard of hearing counterparts. The implication for social change pertains to the importance of understanding the effects of hearing loss on an individual's psychological processes. This knowledge can be helpful for clinicians when determining proper treatment strategies.