Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Public Health


Jirina Foltysova


In the United States, despite the proven significant economic, health, and social benefits of seatbelt use, millions of Americans do not use seatbelts. It is known that some factors, including obesity, reduce the rates of seatbelt use; however, a lack of research exists regarding whether individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing (HOH) have different rates of seatbelt use. The purpose of this study was to examine the difference in seatbelt use between deaf or HOH individuals and hearing individuals after adjusting for individual-level factors (BMI, marital status, education, and access to health care). The theoretical foundation for this study was Stokols’ social ecological model for health promotion. This quantitative cross-sectional study was conducted using secondary data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) in 2017. Ordinal logistic regressions was used to address the research questions. The results showed that deaf or HOH individuals, and specifically those who were obese, were less likely to use seatbelts. The findings also showed that having access to health insurance and being married increased the chance of using seatbelts. The impact this study will have on social change is that it will inform car manufacturers of the need to address seatbelt safety reminders for the deaf or HOH, ultimately leading to vehicles equipped with flashing lights and vibrating seats designed to remind the driver and its occupants to buckle up.