A Questionable Consistency Response to Fitch (1990) Letter to the Editor
Letter to the Editor  |   December 01, 1992
A Questionable Consistency
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Michael P. Cannito
    University of South Alabama Mobile, AL
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech / Letters to the Editor
Letter to the Editor   |   December 01, 1992
A Questionable Consistency
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 1992, Vol. 35, 1268-1269. doi:10.1044/jshr.3506.1268
History: Received June 4, 1991 , Accepted April 28, 1992
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 1992, Vol. 35, 1268-1269. doi:10.1044/jshr.3506.1268
History: Received June 4, 1991; Accepted April 28, 1992
With increasing frequency in recent years, a variety of automated and semiautomated quantitative speech performance measures, derived from digital electronics, are finding their way into the routine practice of speech-language pathology. Although quantification is clearly a desirable clinical goal, we should not be blinded by apparent or superficial precision of such gadgetry or fail to question fundamental assumptions (i.e., are these valid and reliable measures of the behavior of interest?). A recent study by Fitch (1990)  sought to examine several such measures of voice fundamental frequency across repeated productions of various speaking tasks using an IBM implementation of the Kay Elemetrics Visi-Pitch device. As the author indicates, there is a pressing need for studies of this type due to the widespread clinical acceptance of Visi-Pitch and its common utilization in the assessment and treatment of voice-disordered patients. Fitch (1990)  utilized a test-retest format to compare two elicitations of vowels, reading, and spontaneous speech samples on the dependent variables of mean fundamental frequency, standard deviation of fundamental frequency, and frequency perturbation or “jitter.” Comparisons were made within gender groupings for 6 male and 6 female normal-speaking adult subjects. No significant differences were reported for test-retest means on any variable, and distribution statistics appear similar across repeated testing. By the end of the article the reader is left with the impression that there is a modicum of test-retest stability for all of the measures, but that it is maximized for the reading task “which had high test-retest consistency” (p. 362). Unfortunately, there are serious methodological problems with this study, which cast doubt on some reported findings and conclusions.
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