Assessing and Understanding Mental Health and Quality of Life in Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Children and Adolescents

Dr Chris Margaret Aanondsen completed her graduate degree in clinical psychology at the University of Constance in Germany. She is a qualified clinical psychologist who currently works with Deaf and hard-of-hearing children and adolescents at the regional Deaf CAMHS at St. Olavs Hospital, Trondheim University Hospital in Norway. Previous work experience includes working with DHH children and adolescents at Statped, the National Service for Special Needs Education and working with typically hearing children in CAMHS. She completed her PhD «Assessing and Understanding Mental Health and Quality of Life in Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Children and Adolescents» at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim in 2022. Deaf and hard-of-hearing children’s mental health, Quality of Life and communication are topics she is especially passionate about both as a clinician and a researcher.  

Mental health problems are more prevalent in deaf and hard-of-hearing – DHH – children. Using written measures to assess mental health problems in DHH children and adolescents has been found to underestimate symptoms. Controversies still exist regarding the Quality of Life (QoL) in DHH children compared to typically hearing (TH) children.

To improve assessment and interventions for DHH children, this study’s aim was to translate reliable and valid questionnaires for mental health and QoL into Norwegian Sign Language (NSL) and validate these. The second aim of the study was to gain a better understanding of signing DHH and hard-of-hearing (HH) children’s mental health, QoL and communication as well as associations between these aspects. The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and the Inventory of Life Quality in Children and Adolescents (ILC) were translated into NSL. 60 DHH and 47 HH children, and their parents completed the self- and parent-reports of the SDQ and ILC.

The psychometric properties of the written Norwegian and NSL versions are presented for the SDQ and ILC. The mental health problems and QoL of DHH children are addressed based on both self- and parent-report. Associations between communicative competence, mental health and QoL are discussed.