Vocal Tract Discomfort Symptoms in Elementary and High School Teachers

Published:January 14, 2021DOI:



      The vocal tract discomfort scale is a self-rating seven-point Likert scale that quantifies frequency and severity of eight qualitative descriptors including burning, tight, dry, aching, tickling, sore, irritable, and lump in the throat, and ranges from 0 (never/none) to 6 (always/extreme; Mathieson et al. 2009). The objectives of the current study were to compare the vocal tract discomfort scale results between elementary school teachers and high school teachers and between male and female teachers using the Persian vocal tract discomfort scale. Also, teachers in different age ranges and with different experiences were compared regarding vocal tract discomfort symptoms.


      The researchers chose 20 elementary and high schools by simple random sampling in Khorramabad, Iran. The survey was given to available teachers of the selected schools. Considering the inclusion criteria, required sample size, and after excluding questionnaires that were not correctly answered, 120 were selected such that 30 were chosen for each subgroup. Subjects consisted of 60 elementary school teachers (30 females and 30 males) with the mean age of 40.92 years (standard deviation = 6.07) and 60 high school teachers (30 females and 30 males) with the mean age of 40.67 years (standard deviation = 6.00). SPSS 25 was used for analyzing the data.


      Results indicated that the frequency and severity of the vocal tract discomfort in elementary school teachers were significantly higher than for the high school teachers with a medium to large effect size. Although the frequency and severity of the symptoms were higher in female compared with male teachers, those differences were not significantly different. Younger teachers had lower frequency and severity ratings of vocal tract discomfort symptoms than older teachers. Teaching experience was not an important factor in predicting vocal tract discomfort symptoms in teachers.


      The results of this study suggest that there is higher frequency, greater severity, and higher percentages of vocal tract discomfort symptoms in elementary compared with high school teachers. In addition, although the mean frequency and severity of vocal tract discomfort symptoms were not significantly different between females and males, females reported higher percentages of the symptoms. Because each of the eight vocal tract symptoms was experienced at the time of testing by between 42% (tightness) and 68% (dryness) of the participants, it is suggested that an educational program regarding vocal tract discomfort may be helpful for this profession.

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