Gender Differences in the Reporting of Vocal Fatigue in Teachers as Quantified by the Vocal Fatigue Index

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Abstract

Objectives:

Occupational voice users report higher instances of vocal health problems. Women, who are more likely than men to report voice problems, are the largest members of some occupational voice users, such as teachers. While a common complaint among this population is vocal fatigue, it has been difficult to quantify. Therefore, the goal of this study is to quantify vocal fatigue generally in school teachers and investigate any related gender differences.

Methods:

Six hundred forty (518 female, 122 male) teachers were surveyed using an online questionnaire consisting in part of the Vocal Fatigue Index (VFI), an index specifically designed to quantify vocal fatigue.

Results:

Compared to vocally healthy adults, the teachers surveyed were 3 times as likely to report vocal tiredness or vocal avoidance and over 3 times as likely to report physical voice discomfort. Additionally, female teachers were more likely to have scores approaching those with dysphonia.

Conclusions:

The VFI quantified elevated levels of vocal fatigue in teachers, with a significant prevalence of symptoms reported among females compared to males. Further, because the VFI indicated elevated complaints (between normal and dysphonic) in a population likely to be elevated, the VFI might be used to identify early indications of voice problems and/or track recovery.

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