Effect of voice disorders on quality of life

Elaine Smith, Katherine Verdolini, Steven Gray, Sara Nichols, Jon Lemke, Julie Barkmeier, Heather Dove, Henry Hoffman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


Between 1991-1993, a group of adult patients (N= 174) and nonpatients (N= 173) were solicited from two university hospital voice disorder clinics to complete a questionnaire designed to elicit information about the frequency and effects of voice impairments on quality of life: work, social, psychological, physical, and communication problems related to a voice disorder. The findings indicated that the patient group was significantly (p<.05) more likely to report (a) a higher frequency of IO specific voice symptoms and (b) adverse quality of life effects. Voice disorders were perceived by the majority of patients as adversely affecting past (53%), current (49%), and future (76%) job functions. The nonpatient comparison group reported only 2-4% of adverse effects on past and current jobs and 19% on future jobs. Only 11% of nonpatients but almost 75% of patients felt that social interactions were adversely affected by voice problems, with participation in social activities limited whenever possible. Psychological problems related to voice functions were reported by a larger portion of patients than nonpatients as well, particularly depression (65% vs. 4%) and adverse professional self-esteem (61% vs. 5%). Only 4-5% of the comparison group but the majority of the patient group noted physical discomfort as the result of a voice disorder, with phonatory effort being the most common complaint in patients (68%). The most commonly reported communication problems in both the patient and comparison groups involved conversations with background noise (65% vs. 8%), difficulty with telephone conversations (58% vs. 5%), and the necessity to repeat statements because of being poorly understood (58% vs. 5%). The elderly were the most commonly affected by these quality of life impairments; however, age may have been confounded with diagnostic category in this study. The results suggest that quality of life may be adversely affected in a large proportion of persons with voice disorders and that more research is needed for improving quality of life for these persons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-244
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Medical Speech-Language Pathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Rehabilitation
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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