Research Article| Volume 27, ISSUE 5, P611-616, September 2013

Student Training to Perceptually Assess Severity of Dysphonia Using the Dysphonic Severity Percentage Scale

  • Natalie Schaeffer
    Address correspondence and reprint requests to Natalie Schaeffer, Department of Communication Arts and Sciences, Brooklyn College, 2900 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11210.
    Department of Communication Arts and Sciences, Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, New York
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      The goal of the present study was to determine if students can be trained to reliably perceive dysphonia using the Dysphonic Severity Percentage (DSP) scale, a perceptual measure shown to have high interrater reliability when used by speech-language pathologists experienced with voice disorders. Because the DSP scale was found to be useful as a research tool in the measurement of dysphonia, using it to train students to recognize dysphonia can enhance their education as future clinicians and researchers.


      This method involved having five inexperienced speech-language pathology students listen to voice samples in two conditions (spontaneous speech and paragraph reading) of 10 clients with moderate to severe dysphonia (phonotrauma); the students simultaneously tallied the nondysphonic syllables on written content of the samples to obtain a DSP for both conditions. Because the clients' dysphonias were moderate to severe, and there were many dysphonic syllables, it was more efficient and advantageous for the students' perception and training to tally the nondysphonic syllables, leaving the dysphonic syllables to calculate the DSP. By tallying the nondysphonic syllables, the students were still recognizing which syllables were dysphonic by not choosing them, thus increasing their perception of both normal and disordered syllables.

      Results and Conclusion

      Statistical analysis using the intraclass correlation coefficient revealed high interrater reliability and high correlations among the trained students for both spontaneous speech and paragraph reading, thus indicating similar training experiences and perceptions. This method appeared to be a more quantitative measure of perceptual ratings than current scales, which use general gradations of dysphonic severity. Moreover, the DSPs were similar between the newly trained students and experienced raters for spontaneous speech, indicating that the students could be trained in the direction experienced by voice clinicians. There was, however, a significant difference between the two groups for paragraph reading, which will be discussed. It was concluded that the DSP method was an effective technique to train students to recognize dysphonia.

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