The Influence of Occupation on Self-perceived Vocal Problems in Patients With Voice Complaints

Barbara Ebersole, Resha S. Soni, Kathleen Moran, Miriam Lango, Karthik Devarajan, Nausheen Jamal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Objective: This study aimed to examine the relationships among patient occupation, laryngeal diagnosis, perceptual dysphonia severity, and patient-perceived voice impairment. Methods: Adult patients presenting with a chief complaint of dysphonia over a 20-month period at a tertiary care, interdisciplinary voice center were included in this retrospective cohort study. Patients were categorized by profession: vocal performers, high occupational voice demand, low or no occupational voice demand, and retired. Associations between professional voice demand and clinician rating of dysphonia severity using the “Grade” score from the Grade, Roughness, Breathiness, Asthenia, and Strain scale and patient ratings of voice impairment using the Voice Handicap Index-10 (VHI-10) were tested using standard descriptive statistical methods. Results: One hundred and sixty-three patients with a presenting complaint of dysphonia were evaluated. Significant associations were found on univariate and multivariable analysis among a patient's occupational voice demand, Grade, Roughness, Breathiness, Asthenia, and Strain grade, and VHI-10 score (P = 0.007 and P < 0.001, respectively). Patients subject to greater vocal demands as a result of their occupation had a greater perception of impairment, regardless of acoustic-perceptual severity, when compared with those with low or no occupational voice demand. Although voice diagnosis was significantly associated with VHI-10 score on univariate analysis, it failed to reach significance on multivariable analysis. Demographic measures such as gender and age also did not correlate with perceived vocal impairment. Conclusion: Patient-perception of voice impairment is influenced by occupational demand, independent of acoustic-perceptual dysphonia. Performers and people with high occupational voice needs demonstrate a unique sensitivity to subtle voice changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)673-680
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Voice
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Dysphonia
  • Impairment
  • Occupational voice
  • Vocation
  • Voice Handicap Index

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Speech and Hearing
  • LPN and LVN


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