Scott R. Smith, MD, MPH is a deaf pediatrician who is bilingual in English and American Sign Language (ASL). His career has focused on health care in special and often underserved populations including deaf children and adolescents who use sign language. Dr. Smith's career objective is to become a leading expert and independent researcher to conduct breakthrough research in cardiovascular health knowledge and literacy in deaf adolescents. The University of Rochester provides Dr. Smith with an ideal environment to work towards his objective with Rochester having a large population of deaf children and people and the University of Rochester Medical Center being motivated to become a center of excellence on health promotion and disease prevention with people who are deaf. Dr. Smith will pursue more advanced research training including formal coursework, mentored individualized curricula, consultative supports, mentorial advisory committee meetings, field trips, and national conferences to develop the necessary research skills and community collaborations to achieve his goals and objectives. Furthermore, because deaf people who use ASL appear to be at a higher risk for specific cardiovascular risks including obesity, Dr. Smith will work with his mentors, consultants, and advisors to conduct a research project to further his research skills development and to generate new and valuable information about critical cardiovascular health knowledge and literacy skills of deaf ASL adolescents. They will accomplish this by developing a new written English measure and survey of specific cardiovascular health knowledge and literacy related to diet, exercise, and personal family cardiovascular history based on findings from focus groups and cognitive interviews of deaf adolescents. They will then adapt this written English survey into computer- based English audio and visual and computer-based ASL video surveys and administer these surveys to cohorts of deaf and hearing adolescents to evaluate their specific cardiovascular health knowledge and literacy. Dr. Smith will share the data with the deaf and health care communities to plan future research and interventions to address the cardiovascular health disparities of the deaf ASL community.

Public Health Relevance

The overarching aim of this proposed Mentored Career Development Award is for Scott Smith, MD, MPH to become an independent physician-scientist with a career focused on cardiovascular health knowledge and literacy in deaf adolescents who use sign language.
The aim of the proposed mentored research project is to assess specific cardiovascular health knowledge and literacy skills in deaf adolescents who primarily communicate through American Sign Language (ASL) by developing a new measure and survey of critical cardiovascular health knowledge and literacy skills focused on diet, exercise, and personal family history. We will focus this new measure to capture aspects of health literacy not yet measured in literature, which will lead to more effective interventions to address and reduce the critical cardiovascular health disparities in the community of deaf people who communicate through sign language.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Research Scientist Development Award - Research & Training (K01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZHL1-CSR-H (M1))
Program Officer
Bonds, Denise
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Rochester
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Dentistry
United States
Zip Code
Smith, Scott R; Samar, Vincent J (2016) Dimensions of Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing and Hearing Adolescents' Health Literacy and Health Knowledge. J Health Commun 21:141-154
Kushalnagar, Poorna; Naturale, Joan; Paludneviciene, Raylene et al. (2015) Health websites: accessibility and usability for American sign language users. Health Commun 30:830-7
Smith, Scott R; Kushalnagar, Poorna; Hauser, Peter C (2015) Deaf Adolescents' Learning of Cardiovascular Health Information: Sources and Access Challenges. J Deaf Stud Deaf Educ 20:408-18
Humphries, Tom; Kushalnagar, Poorna; Mathur, Gaurav et al. (2014) Bilingualism: A Pearl to Overcome Certain Perils of Cochlear Implants. J Med Speech Lang Pathol 21:107-125
Kushalnagar, Poorna; McKee, Michael; Smith, Scott R et al. (2014) Conceptual model for quality of life among adults with congenital or early deafness. Disabil Health J 7:350-5
Humphries, Tom; Kushalnagar, Raja; Mathur, Gaurav et al. (2013) The right to language. J Law Med Ethics 41:872-84, Table of Contents
McKee, Michael M; Smith, Scott; Barnett, Steven et al. (2013) Commentary: What are the benefits of training deaf and hard-of-hearing doctors? Acad Med 88:158-61
Humphries, Tom; Kushalnagar, Poorna; Mathur, Gaurav et al. (2012) Language acquisition for deaf children: Reducing the harms of zero tolerance to the use of alternative approaches. Harm Reduct J 9:16
Thew, Denise; Smith, Scott R; Chang, Christopher et al. (2012) The deaf strong hospital program: a model of diversity and inclusion training for first-year medical students. Acad Med 87:1496-500