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Knowledge of the Voice in the Teachers' Population and their Ability to Refer Children with Voice Disorders to a Speech-Language Pathologist

  • Author Footnotes
    1 Equal contribution between the first and second author.
    Anke Adriaansen
    Footnotes
    1 Equal contribution between the first and second author.
    Affiliations
    Centre for Speech and Language Sciences, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
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  • Author Footnotes
    1 Equal contribution between the first and second author.
    Bram Van Oudenhove
    Footnotes
    1 Equal contribution between the first and second author.
    Affiliations
    Centre for Speech and Language Sciences, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
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  • Kristiane Van Lierde
    Affiliations
    Centre for Speech and Language Sciences, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium

    Faculty of Humanities, Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
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  • Evelien D'haeseleer
    Affiliations
    Centre for Speech and Language Sciences, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium

    Royal Conservatory Brussels, Musical Department, Brussels, Belgium
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  • Iris Meerschman
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence and reprint requests to C. Heymanslaan 10, 2P1, 9000 Gent (Belgium).
    Affiliations
    Centre for Speech and Language Sciences, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
    Search for articles by this author
  • Author Footnotes
    1 Equal contribution between the first and second author.

      Summary

      Objectives

      The objectives of this study were to investigate (1) the knowledge of primary school teachers regarding voice and voice disorders, (2) the primary school teacher's ability to identify and refer a dysphonic child to a speech-language pathologist (SLP), and (3) potential contributing factors that might affect this ability.

      Method and Materials

      Thirty-one primary school teachers (30 women, one man) with a mean age of 33 years (range: 22-57 years; SD: 11.1 years) were included in this study. They filled out an online questionnaire, gathering demographic information, estimations of their knowledge regarding voice and voice disorders, and their ability to refer a dysphonic child to an SLP. Furthermore, they completed an online quiz (maximum score: 9) with basic questions about the voice, vocal health and voice disorders.

      Results

      Most teachers (58.1%) rated their knowledge as basic, 16.1% as adequate and 25.8% as good. One out of four teachers (25.8%) received voice-related information during their education. A substantial part (38.7%) gathered information through other channels, such as voice therapy. Almost all participants (90%) reported to have no or little experience with dysphonic children. Half of them (51.6%) felt unsure about their ability to refer a dysphonic child to an SLP, and 54.8% were willing to attend extra voice workshops. A significant association was found between the estimated knowledge regarding voice (disorders) and attendance of voice therapy (P = 0.020). More than half of the teachers who attended voice therapy (57.1%) estimated their voice-related knowledge as good, compared to only 16.7% of the teachers who did not attend voice therapy. Moreover, a significant association was found between the years of teaching experience and the quiz total score (P = 0.040). The majority of the teachers with the least teaching experience (57.1%) achieved a score between 4 and 6, whereas the teachers with more experience achieved a score between 7 and 9.

      Conclusion

      This study suggests that the voice-related knowledge of primary school teachers is limited. Consequently, teachers do not feel confident in referring a dysphonic child to an SLP. As teachers can be important sources in indirect assessment of pediatric dysphonia, they need to be well informed and extensively trained in using voice screening protocols. Interdisciplinary cooperation between SLPs and teachers should be optimized to provide the best available care and improve the children's quality of life.

      Key words

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