Perceived Voice Quality and Voice-Related Problems Among Older Adults With Hearing Impairments The auditory system helps regulate phonation. A speaker's perception of their own voice is likely to be of both emotional and functional significance. Although many investigations have observed deviating voice qualities in individuals who are prelingually deaf or profoundly hearing impaired, less is known regarding how older adults with acquired ... Research Article
Newly Published
Research Article  |   August 28, 2018
Perceived Voice Quality and Voice-Related Problems Among Older Adults With Hearing Impairments
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Johanna Hengen
    Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Linköping University, Sweden
    Linnaeus Centre HEAD, Swedish Institute for Disability Research, Linköping University, Sweden
  • Inger Lundeborg Hammarström
    Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Linköping University, Sweden
  • Stefan Stenfelt
    Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Linköping University, Sweden
    Linnaeus Centre HEAD, Swedish Institute for Disability Research, Linköping University, Sweden
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Johanna Hengen: johanna.hengen@liu.se
  • Editor-in-Chief: Julie Liss
    Editor-in-Chief: Julie Liss×
  • Editor: Jack Jiang
    Editor: Jack Jiang×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Voice Disorders / Hearing Disorders / Hearing Aids, Cochlear Implants & Assistive Technology / Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Newly Published / Research Article
Research Article   |   August 28, 2018
Perceived Voice Quality and Voice-Related Problems Among Older Adults With Hearing Impairments
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, Newly Published. doi:10.1044/2018_JSLHR-S-17-0383
History: Received October 16, 2017 , Revised February 21, 2018 , Accepted May 7, 2018
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, Newly Published. doi:10.1044/2018_JSLHR-S-17-0383
History: Received October 16, 2017; Revised February 21, 2018; Accepted May 7, 2018

  The auditory system helps regulate phonation. A speaker's perception of their own voice is likely to be of both emotional and functional significance. Although many investigations have observed deviating voice qualities in individuals who are prelingually deaf or profoundly hearing impaired, less is known regarding how older adults with acquired hearing impairments perceive their own voice and potential voice problems.

Purpose The purpose of this study was to investigate problems relating to phonation and self-perceived voice sound quality in older adults based on hearing ability and the use of hearing aids.

Method This was a cross-sectional study, with 290 participants divided into 3 groups (matched by age and gender): (a) individuals with hearing impairments who did not use hearing aids (n = 110), (b) individuals with hearing impairments who did use hearing aids (n = 110), and (c) individuals with no hearing impairments (n = 70). All participants underwent a pure-tone audiometry exam; completed standardized questionnaires regarding their hearing, voice, and general health; and were recorded speaking in a soundproof room.

Results The hearing aid users surpassed the benchmarks for having a voice disorder on the Voice Handicap Index (VHI; Jacobson et al., 1997) at almost double the rate predicted by the Swedish normative values for their age range, although there was no significant difference in acoustical measures between any of the groups. Both groups with hearing impairments scored significantly higher on the VHI than the control group, indicating more impairment. It remains inconclusive how much hearing loss versus hearing aids separately contribute to the difference in voice problems. The total scores on the Hearing Handicap Inventory for the Elderly (Ventry & Weinstein, 1982), in combination with the variables gender and age, explained 21.9% of the variance on the VHI. Perceiving one's own voice as being distorted, dull, or hollow had a strong negative association with a general satisfaction about the sound quality of one's own voice. In addition, groupwise differences in own-voice descriptions suggest that a negative perception of one's voice could be influenced by alterations caused by hearing aid processing.

Conclusions The results indicate that hearing impairments and hearing aids affect several aspects of vocal satisfaction in older adults. A greater understanding of how hearing impairments and hearing aids relate to voice problems may contribute to better voice and hearing care.

Acknowledgments
The study was partially funded by the Hearing Foundation, Swedish Association of Hard of Hearing People (2012–373), awarded to Stefan Stenfelt.
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