Original Research

Sexual and reproductive health needs assessment with deaf people in Ghana: Methodological challenges and ethical concerns

Wisdom K. Mprah
African Journal of Disability | Vol 2, No 1 | a55 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v2i1.55 | © 2013 Wisdom K. Mprah | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 January 2013 | Published: 06 September 2013

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Wisdom K. Mprah, Department of Disability and Human Development, University of Illinois at Chicago, United States of America

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Background: Deafness is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon. The different ways of perceiving and understanding deafness have practical implications for research with deaf people. Whilst the deaf community is not homogenous, it is generally distinct from the hearing population. Consequently, the appropriateness of applying research methods and informed concern processes designed for the hearing population in research with deaf people has been questioned.

Objectives: This article reflected on some methodological challenges and ethical concerns arising from conducting a sexual and reproductive health needs assessment with deaf people in Ghana. The aim was to provide some perspectives on some of the challenges associated with doing research with deaf people.

Method: The study was a two phase, sequential, mixed methods design, consisting of three focus groups to assist in the development of a survey and then the implementation of the survey for needs assessment data collection. The number of participants in the study was 179, consisting of 26 focus group participants: 7 executives of the Ghana National Association of the Deaf (GNAD), 10 male adults, and 9 female adults. There were 152 survey respondents (students, women and men) and one key informant. All participants, except the key informant, were deaf people.

Results: The application of traditional research methods to studies involving deaf participants presents numerous methodological and ethical dilemmas associated mainly with deaf people’s unique cultural and linguistic characteristics.

Conclusion: Research methods should not be taken as universal guidelines for conducting research in all settings because of differences in settings.


Challenges; Ghana; health; sexual; reproductive; needs assessment


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