SignPain – Development of a digital prototype intervention supporting pain communication between deaf patients and healthcare professionals (2022-2024)

Research team:

Catarina Tomé Pires (principal investigator – PI) from the Psychology Research Centre (CIP) from the Autonomous University of Lisbon (UAL) and Alvisa Palese from the University of Udine (Italy)


Evidence shows that deaf individuals often experience significant healthcare disparities. They have increased risks of receiving inadequate health care, assessment and health-related information due to communication problems. Digital health interventions have the potential to support health care and thus may represent an innovative solution to support pain communication problems between deaf individuals and healthcare professionals (HCP) reducing social pain care disparities. This novel research proposal pretends to address pain communication problems between deaf patients and HCP, so far lacking in the scientific literature. The main aim of this mixed-method exploratory study is to inform on the development of a digital intervention prototype – SignPain - to support such communication. SignPain is a digital intervention prototype grounded in the social communication model of pain that will be developed to support pain communication between deaf patients and HCP (nurses, general physicians, specialist medical doctors). Specific aims are to: (1) identify the main communication barriers and facilitators in pain care from deaf patients and healthcare professionals’ perspectives devoting special attention to the processes of (a) encoding the pain experience into expressive behaviour, and (b) decoding expressive pain behaviour; (2) develop the SignPain intervention prototype.

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