Research News


Data recommends improving the situation of women with hearing disability

Tsukuba—Regarding better social welfare, people should be more informed about the gap in living standards for those with disabilities. A research team led by Nanako Tamiya and Yoko Kobayashi at the University of Tsukuba, Japan, have done a statistical comparison between people with and without hearing disability in terms of social, health and gender differences. The results were published in PLOS One on February 5, 2015.

Research member Yoko Kobayashi has congenital hearing disability, so she has experienced the severe reality for people with disabilities. But at the same time, she has received an excellent education. She graduated from a kindergarten to high school special care program attached to the University of Tsukuba, and holds a master of public health (MPH) from California State University Graduate School.

The data used in this study were gathered from basic population research conducted in 2007 by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. A clear difference was found for women with hearing disability, who are less likely to married, more likely to smoke, and tend to be in less healthy condition.

Specifically, the team statistically analyzed the data of 136,849 people from 20 to 39 years old regarding their employment, marriage, smoking habits as well as health conditions.

Originally, the research data collected by the government was to determine basic situations of Japanese people in regard to insurance, medical care, pension and income. Four types of questionnaire were distributed to the respondents, concerning family, health, nursing-care, and income and savings.

(At the far right) Dr. Yoko Kobayashi

(At the far right) Dr. Yoko Kobayashi)

The research team at the University of Tsukuba re-calculated the statistics from the government data, focusing on people with or without hearing disability. The groups re-calculated by the research were then divided by gender for the comparison of each item.

This was the first comprehensive investigation into people with hearing disability in Japan, with lots of useful outcomes The results imply that public policy should consider differences of gender and situation in each case respectively, rather than dealing with people with hearing disabilities en masse.

Japan ratified a treaty on the rights of disabled people in 2014. The treaty was a remarkable step forward for the people as it recommend more attentive discussions in the society In 2016, the government is enforcing a law prohibiting the discrimination against such people. This research result gives perspective on where the government should be focusing its efforts on this matter.

Professor Nanako Tamiya

Professor Nanako Tamiya

Original Paper

Yoko Kobayashi, Nanako Tamiya, Yoko Moriyama, and Akihiro Nishi, Triple Difficulties in Japanese Women with Hearing Loss: Marriage, Smoking, and Mental Health Issues, PLoS One, 10(2), doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0116648 (2015).

Celebrating the 151st 50th Anniversary of the University of Tsukuba
Celebrating the 151st 50th Anniversary of the University of Tsukuba