Vocal tract discomfort in teachers: its relationship to self-reported voice disorders

Gabriela Rodrigues, Fabiana Zambon, Lesley Mathieson, Mara Behlau
Journal of Voice 2013, 27 (4): 473-80

OBJECTIVE: To verify vocal tract discomfort (VTD) in teachers and determine its relationship to the presence of self-reported voice problems (S-rVPs), vocal signs and symptoms, voice self-assessment, and perceptual analysis of voice quality.

METHODS: Thirty-two teachers with vocal complaints and 30 teachers with no complaints.

PROCEDURES: Demographic questionnaire, signs and symptoms questionnaire, VTD scale, vocal self-assessment, and perceptual analysis of voice.

RESULTS: The S-rVPs group was presented with higher frequency of all vocal signs and symptoms and also had greater frequency and intensity of discomfort than the teachers without complaint, for all the analyzed items (P<0.05). The group with S-rVPs experienced more than twice the level of discomfort than the group without S-rVPs (mean 6.3 vs 2.8 symptoms, P<0.05). Teachers with voice problems felt at least three symptoms of discomfort, whereas some teachers without complaint did not have any discomfort. We found a correlation between self-perceived voice and VTD. On the other hand, there is little correlation between discomfort and perceptual analysis of voice quality. VTD is also associated with specific voice signs/symptoms that might indicate an incipient voice disorder.

CONCLUSION: This study reveals the importance of understanding the subjects' perception of their own problems so that issues experienced by patients that are not directly apparent to the clinician can be addressed in the treatment. Symptoms related to the vocal tract must therefore be given consideration to ensure a comprehensive and more relevant approach to the needs of patients.

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