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Perceived Singing Handicap Predicts Vocal Disorders

New 36-question assessment may help clinicians diagnose problems such as vocal fold lesions

WEDNESDAY, April 2 (HealthDay News) -- Among amateur and professional singers, the perception of a singing handicap as measured by the Singing Voice Handicap Index (SVHI) -- a newly validated singing voice-specific health status instrument -- may predict the presence of vocal disorders, according to a report published in the April issue of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery.

Seth M. Cohen, M.D., of the Duke Voice Care Center, Duke University Medical Division of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery Center in Durham, N.C., studied 171 singers who presented at the center and completed the 36-question SVHI prior to evaluation and treatment. Raw scores range from zero to 144 and are scaled to range from zero to 100.

The researchers found that SVHI scores were higher among amateur singers, singing teachers, subjects with a longer duration of symptoms and subjects who were diagnosed with benign vocal fold lesions and neurologic voice disorders. Their univariate analysis also showed that older age (50 and over) and gospel singing were predictive of increased SVHI scores.

"Singers experience significant handicap as a result of their singing problems with certain factors associated with greater impairment. Targeting interventions at patients more severely affected may improve outcomes," the authors conclude. "Future studies should also compare singing voice handicap outcomes after surgical and non-surgical treatments."

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