Voice-related Quality of Life in laryngectomees: assessment using the VHI and V-RQOL symptom scales

R Kazi, J De Cordova, A Singh, R Venkitaraman, C M Nutting, P Clarke, P Rhys-Evans, K J Harrington
Journal of Voice 2007, 21 (6): 728-34
The primary purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of the voice impairment across the physical, emotional, and functional domains in patients using valved speech following total laryngectomy with the help of two symptom specific scales. The study design used was a cross-sectional cohort. The setting was the Head and Neck Oncology Unit of a tertiary referral centre. Subjects were 54 patients who had undergone total laryngectomy. Two voice-specific questionnaires, the Voice-Related Quality of Life (V-RQOL-short form) Measure, and the Voice Handicap Index (VHI-long form) were used. The main outcome measure was patient perception of the voice following total laryngectomy in response to specific questions correlated with sociodemographic/treatment factors. Responses were received from 40 males and 14 females (response rate of 85.7%) with a median age of 63.4 years (range: 37-84). The V-RQOL overall analysis showed that 3 patients (5.6%) scored "excellent," 29 patients (53.7%) "fair to good," 14 patients (25.9%) "poor to fair," and 8 patients (14.8%) "poor." Analysis of the VHI revealed that 20 patients (37.0%) had a minimal handicap, 20 patients (37.0%) a moderate handicap, and 14 patients (25.9%) had a serious voice handicap. The individual domain or subscale scores for the VHI revealed a mean (SD) functional score of 15.8 (7.7), a physical score of 13.6 (7.2), and finally an emotional score of 11.6 (8.9). Functional aspects of the voice were significantly affected by age, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy (Spearman rho, P=0.01; Mann-Whitney, P=0.04 and P=0.01). The physical aspects of the voice were significantly affected by age and chemotherapy (Spearman rho, P=0.004; Mann-Whitney, P=0.04). Only age significantly affected the emotional aspects of the voice (Spearman rho, P=0.002). We found a strong correlation (Spearman rho, P<0.001) between the V-RQOL and VHI questionnaires. Our study revealed that the V-RQOL and VHI scores in our series of patients following voice restoration in laryngectomees were consistent with that reported in the literature. Only age, radiation, and chemotherapy were seen to influence the voice handicap scores. In addition, both symptom scales had good correlation between them and either one could be used with reliability in laryngectomees with a few modifications.

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