Prevalence of Voice Disorders in Teachers and the General Population

Roy, Nelson; Merrill, Ray M.; Thibeault, Susan; Parsa, Rahul A.; Gray, Steven D.; Smith, Elaine M.
April 2004
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Apr2004, Vol. 47 Issue 2, p281
Academic Journal
Over 3 million teachers in the United States use their voice as a primary tool of trade and are thought to be at higher risk for occupation-related voice disorders than the general population. However, estimates regarding the prevalence of voice disorders in teachers and the general population vary considerably. To determine the extent that teachers are at greater risk for voice disorders, 2,531 randomly selected participants from Iowa and Utah (1,243 teachers and 1,288 nonteachers) were interviewed by telephone using a voice disorder questionnaire. Prevalence--the number of cases per population at risk at a specific time--was determined. The prevalence of reporting a current voice problem was significantly greater in teachers compared with nonteachers (11.0% vs. 6.2%), ÷ 2 (1) = 18.2, p < .001, as was the prevalence of voice disorders during their lifetime (57.7% for teachers vs. 28.8% for nonteachers), ÷ 2 (1) = 215.2, p < .001. Teachers were also significantly more likely than nonteachers to have consulted a physician or speech-language pathologist regarding a voice disorder (14.3% vs. 5.5%), ÷ 2 (1) = 55.3, p < .001. Women, compared with men, not only had a higher lifetime prevalence of voice disorders (46.3% vs. 36.9%), ÷ 2 (1) = 20.9, p < .001, but also had a higher prevalence of chronic voice disorders (>4 weeks in duration), compared with acute voice disorders (20.9% vs. 13.3%), ÷ 2 (1) = 8.7, p = .003. To assess the association between past voice disorders and possible risks, adjusted odds ratios (ORs) were estimated using multiple logistic regression. The results identified that being a teacher, being a woman, being between 40 and 59 years of age, having 16 or more years of education, and having a family history of voice disorders were each positively associated with having experienced a voice disorder in the past. These results support the notion that teaching is a high-risk occupation for voice...


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