Dysphonia and vocal tract discomfort while working from home during COVID-19
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Summary: Objective During COVID-19, government measures to prevent disease spread included advice to work from home. In addition to occupational risk factors, the increased use of telecommunication and changed work environment may contribute to voice and vocal tract discomfort (VTD). This study established the prevalence, incidence, characteristics and impact of self-perceived dysphonia and VTD in those working from home during COVID-19. Methods A cross-sectional, observational study using an online survey recruited 1575 participants. It captured information about dysphonia and VTD presence, onset and severity. Those with dysphonia completed the V-RQOL to measure impact. Regression analyses identified risk factors for voice and vocal tract problems. Results Dysphonia and VTD prevalence rates were 33% and 68% respectively, incidences were 28% and 50%. Perceived dysphonia severity was mild in 72% of cases. Dry throat was the most common VTD symptom at 66%. Mean V-RQOL score was 82.4 (SD ±13.2). Raising or straining the voice while working predicted new onset dysphonia and VTD. Increasing telecommunication use was associated with worse dysphonia and VTD onset. Conclusion Those working from home have seen a rise in dysphonia and VTD, which were associated with communication modality and change in environment. If home offices become the „new normal‟ post-COVID, workplaces should consider voice training for employees to limit potential difficulties.
Link to resourcehttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvoice.2020.10.010
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