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Actions speak louder than words

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 30 September 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a1882
  1. Michael Paddock, intercalating MB BS student, King’s College London School of Medicine,
  2. Bernadette O’Neil, senior communication skills lecturer, King’s College London School of Medicine,
  3. Andy Holwell, consultant child and adolescent deaf psychiatrist, South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust
  1. Correspondence to: M Paddock michael.paddock{at}

    “I was crying all the time but didn’t know why. I couldn’t explain to myself how I was feeling, let alone to the doctor. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep . . . I just couldn’t stop crying.” These are the words of a friend of one of the authors who until recently had clinical depression. Unable to say or even write down how he felt, he just looked up at the doctor and carried on crying as he struggled to communicate. Why? He is one of thousands of people throughout the United Kingdom who have been profoundly deaf from birth and who struggle to communicate with healthcare professionals.

    It is estimated that there are nearly nine million hard of hearing or profoundly deaf people in the United Kingdom—almost a sixth of the population.1 In spite of these figures, thousands of profoundly deaf individuals throughout the UK still struggle to communicate with healthcare professionals on a daily basis. …

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