Voice problems among Slovenian physicians compared to the teachers: Prevalence and risk factors
AbstractBackground: Physicians are classified as nonvocal professionals. However, they do have a certain vocal load during one-to-one communications with patients. In addition, they are also exposed to respiratory infections that can cause voice problems. Aims: The aim of our study was to investigate the prevalence of voice problems in physicians in Slovenia and to identify some of the risk factors for their voice disorders, and to compare them with Slovenian teachers. Methods: Questionnaires were sent to 300 randomly chosen physicians working at outpatient departments in Slovenia to collect information about the prevalence and causes of voice disorders, vocal load, vocal habits, and certain diseases influencing voice quality. Data were analyzed for a total of 145 physicians and compared to the results of a previous study in Slovenian teachers. Results: A total of 82.8 % of the physicians reported having voice problems during their career, with 7.6 % of them experiencing frequent voice problems, which was comparable to the incidence of voice problems in Slovenian teachers. Upper-respiratory-tract infection (URI) was the most common cause of the physicians’ voice problems (58.6 %). The following significant risk factors for their voice problems were found: age over 40 years, signs of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), improper vocal habits and allergy. Frequent voice problems in physicians were connected with frequent throat clearing and no voice rest during dysphonia. Conclusions: The prevalence of voice disorders among outpatients’ physicians in Slovenia is high and is comparable to the incidence of voice problems in Slovenian teachers. URI is the most common cause of these voice problems. GERD, allergies and an age over 40 years were stated as the risk factors for voice disorders. In order to reduce the extent of voice problems, lessons on vocal hygiene, and additional information about diseases causing voice disorders should be included in their postgraduate education.
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