Research Article|Articles in Press

Understanding the Use and Importance of Voice Stimulability Assessment Among Speech-Language Pathologists Who Treat Voice Disorders: An International Survey

  • Laura E. Toles
    Address correspondence and reprint requests to Laura E. Toles, Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 2001 Inwood Rd., Dallas, TX 75390.
    Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas
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  • Elizabeth D. Young
    Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, The University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
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Published:January 28, 2023DOI:



      Stimulability assessment is a common part of the voice evaluation, but little information exists about what is involved in the process, how it is measured, and how it impacts therapeutic decisions. The aim of this study was to establish the frequency, circumstances, techniques, and rationale for stimulability assessment among voice-specialized speech-language pathologists (SLPs).


      An anonymized online survey was distributed to voice-specialized SLPs through email lists, online communities, and professional networks. Surveys queried clinical demographic information, respondents’ definition of stimulability, importance of stimulability assessment, frequency with which stimulability assessment is performed for various patient populations, preferred facilitating techniques, importance of stimulability assessment for a variety of clinical goals, and methods of measuring voice stimulability.


      Eighty-eight responses were analyzed. All respondents perform voice stimulability assessment, with 97% considering the practice important. Stimulability assessment is completed with all voice disorders and is consistently completed with muscle tension dysphonia, phonotraumatic disorders, vocal fold mobility disorders, and presbyphonia. Ninety-one percent of the sample does not use a structured stimulability assessment protocol. All respondents felt that stimulability is, to some degree, predictive of successful voice therapy outcomes. Resonance modifications and semi-occluded vocal tract techniques were the most commonly used facilitating strategies. Respondents felt that stimulability assessment was very important for assessing patient awareness, estimating prognosis, and identifying training gestures.


      Responding voice clinicians felt that stimulability assessment is an important part of the voice evaluation. This study provides information on how stimulability assessment is being used and outlines what is needed to study its impact.

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