To evaluate the correlation between voice disorders and psychological distress, in terms of anxiety, stress, and depression, in a sample of adult Italian patients and to compare our results with those obtained in a group of adult healthy controls matched by age, sex, geographic distribution, and occupation.
This prospective-controlled study included 100 adults with Vocal nodules (VN) and Muscle Tension Dysphonia (MTD1), aged between 18 and 65 years, as Experimental Group (EG) and 100 age-matched subjects without any voice disorders as a Control Group (CG). All patients in the EG underwent a phoniatric evaluation, including the administration of the Voice Handicap Index (VHI) and laryngeal examination. Both patients of EG and CG underwent a Psychological evaluation by means of standardized tests; Beck's Depression Inventory, State Anxiety Inventory (STAI 1-State Anxiety), Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI 2- Trait Anxiety), and Perceived Stress Scale (PSS-10) were completed by patients. Fisher's exact test and chi-squared test were used to compare all categorical variables, whereas numerical variables were compared either with the nonparametric Mann-Whitney-Wilcoxon or with Kruskal Wallis test. General linear models were used to study continuous variables between patients and controls and between different groups within the sample.
In the study group, the Physical domain (P score) of the VHI was more affected than the Emotional (E score) and Functional ones (F score) both in patients with MTD1 and VN; patients with VN presented a significant difference in P score, E score and VHI total score than patients with isolated MTD 1 (P < 0.005). Psychological assessment showed a significant difference (P < 0.005) between VN and MTD 1 regarding PSS-10 and STAI-1 scores. Low Beck's Depression Inventory scores were present in our sample without significant differences between patients with VN and those with MTD 1. Scores related to psychological distress in the EG were far superior to those obtained by the healthy CG, with markedly significant values especially for PSS-10 (P < 0.0001) and STAI 2 (P < 0.01). Finally, younger patients (18-35 years) with VN showed a highest risk of psychosocial distress.
the present study identified a high prevalence of psychological distress among patients with vocal disorders without any prior specific psychiatric diagnosis, especially in terms of anxiety and perceived stress. For this reason both these symptoms should be taken into consideration in the diagnostic, therapeutic, and follow-up process of patients with MTD1 and VN.
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Published online: December 30, 2020
Accepted: December 10, 2020
Declarations of interest: none
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