Self-reported Improvement with Voice Therapy via Translation for Muscle Tension Dysphonia: A Pilot Study


Voice therapy is essential to caring for millions of Americans with vocal problems. However, for immigrants who are non-English speakers (NES), native-language therapists may not be available. Treatment is often provided via translator, but little data support the efficacy of this modality. We hypothesized that voice therapy would improve subject self-ratings of voice impairment, both with and without translation. We surveyed both NES and English-speakers (ES) before and two months after receiving voice therapy at our institution for functional dysphonia. NES received therapy via translation. The survey instrument was the 30-item Voice Handicap Index (VHI). NES subjects were provided with a professionally translated version of the VHI in their native language.  Change scores were calculated for the 20 subjects (12 NES and 7 ES) who completed both pre- and post-treatment surveys, and were normalized to a maximal score of 120 to account for incomplete questionnaires. ES improved from a baseline mean of 49.1 to 30.5 (p=0.015), and NES from 56.9 to 47.3 (p=0.065). The mean for the entire group improved from 54.0 to 41.1 (p=0.002). No significant between-group difference was found. Overall, this mixed population showed improvement in the VHI with voice therapy. Analyzed individually, English-speakers had significant improvement, while non-English speakers did not. Further studies of voice therapy via translation are warranted.