Identifying Occupations at Risk for Laryngeal Disorders Requiring Specialty Voice Care

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Abstract

Objective

To identify occupational groups’ use of specialty voice clinic evaluation.

Study Design

Retrospective cohort study.

Setting

Tertiary subspecialty clinic.

Subjects and Methods

We analyzed data collected on patients presenting to the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Voice and Speech Laboratory over a 20-year period (1993-2013). The relative risk (RR) and 99% confidence interval (CI) of presentation were calculated for each occupational category in the greater Boston population using year-matched data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Results

The records of 12,120 new patients were reviewed. Using year- and occupation-matched BLS data from 2005 to 2013, 2726 patients were included in the cohort analysis. Several occupations had significantly higher risk of presentation. These included arts and entertainment (RR 4.98, CI 4.18-5.95), law (RR 3.24, CI 2.48-4.23), education (RR 3.08, CI 2.70-3.52), and social services (RR 2.07, CI 1.57-2.73). In contrast, many occupations had significantly reduced risk of presentation for laryngological disorders, for example, maintenance (RR 0.25, CI 0.15-0.42), food preparation (RR 0.35, CI 0.26-0.48), and administrative support (RR 0.49, CI 0.41-0.57).

Conclusion

Certain occupations are associated with higher use of laryngological services presumably because of their vocational voice needs. In addition to confirming findings from other studies, we identified several new occupation groups with increased or decreased risk for laryngologic disorders. Understanding what factors predispose to requiring specialty voice evaluation may help in targeting preventative efforts.

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