W.K.CHEW1, S.J.LOOK1, L.T.TAN1
Khoo Teck Puat Hospital1
Teachers are at greater risk of developing voice disorders due to their occupational demands. This can negatively impact on their daily lives and psychosocial well-being. Studies overseas have investigated the prevalence and associated factors of voice disorders among teachers, but there remains a paucity of research in Singapore. This study aims to determine the prevalence of voice handicap among teachers in Singapore, and investigate factors correlated with it.
Adopting a retrospective cross-sectional design, this study analysed the Voice Handicap Index-10 (VHI-10) scores of 1461 teachers from 24 schools, who completed an anonymous online survey. The scores were analysed to determine the percentage prevalence of voice handicap in this population. Spearman’s rank-order correlation was used to measure the relationship between age and VHI-10 scores. Kruskal-Wallis test was applied to evaluate the differences in VHI-10 scores for gender and school type.
The VHI-10 had a high reliability score with a Cronbach alpha of 0.0934. The prevalence of significant voice handicap among Singaporean teachers was 28%. Correlation analysis showed a negative correlation between age and voice handicap (r =-0.05, p=0.03). There was a statistically significant effect of school type on voice handicap (p= 0.04), but no significant effect for gender (p=0.28).
The VHI-10 is a valid test for use in Singapore. More than 1 in 4 Singaporean teachers experience significant voice handicap. Factors associated with greater voice handicap include younger age, and teaching in a secondary school. Our findings highlight the importance of voice care among this group of professional voice users.