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Voice Acoustics and Vocal Effort in Mask-Wearing Healthcare Professionals: A Comparison Pre- and Post-Workday

      Summary

      Objective

      We evaluated voice acoustics and self-perceptual ratings in healthcare workers required to wear face masks throughout their workday.

      Methods

      Eighteen subjects (11 cisgender female, 7 cisgender male; M = 33.72 years, SD = 8.30) completed self-perceptual ratings and acoustic recordings before and after a typical workday. Chosen measures were specific to vocal effort, dysphonia, and laryngeal tension. Mixed effects models were calculated to determine the impact of session, mask type, sex, and their interactions on the set of perceptual and acoustic measures.

      Results

      The subjects self-reported a significant increase in vocal effort following the workday. These perceptual changes coincided with an increase in vocal intensity and harmonics-to-noise ratio, but decrease in relative fundamental frequency offset 10. As expected, men and women differed in measures related to fundamental frequency and vocal tract length.

      Conclusion

      Healthcare professionals wearing masks reported greater vocal symptoms post-workday compared to pre-workday. These symptoms coincided with acoustic changes previously related to vocal effort; however, the degree of change was considered mild. Further research is needed to determine whether vocal hygiene strategies may reduce vocal symptoms in mask-wearing workers.

      Key Words

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