Authors: Lin FC, Chien HY, Chen SH, Kao YC, Cheng PW, Wang CT
Title: Voice Therapy for Benign Voice Disorders in the Elderly: A Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing Telepractice and Conventional Face-to-Face Therapy
Source: Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 2020 63(7): 2132-2140
Year: 2020
Research Design: Randomised Controlled Trial
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Purpose Previous studies have reported that voice therapy via telepractice is useful for patients with nodules and muscle tension dysphonia. Nevertheless, telepractice for elderly patients with voice disorders has not yet been investigated. We conducted this study to examine the hypothesis that voice therapy via telepractice is not inferior to conventional voice therapy. Method Eighty patients with dysphonia aged more than 55 years participated in this study from September 2016 to June 2018. After screening the inclusion and the exclusion criteria, 69 patients were randomized into telepractice (33 patients) and conventional (36 patients) groups. The outcome measurements included Voice Handicap Index-10, videolaryngostroboscopy, maximum phonation time, auditory-perceptual evaluation, and acoustic analysis. Paired t test, Wilcoxon signed-ranks test, and repeated measures analysis of variance were used to examine treatment outcomes. Results The diagnoses of voice disorders included atrophy (n = 33), unilateral vocal paralysis (n = 13), muscle tension dysphonia (n = 7), nodules (n = 6), and polyps (n = 10). No significant differences were observed in age, sex, and baseline measurements between the two groups. Twenty-five patients in the telepractice group and 24 patients in the control group completed at least four weekly sessions. Significant improvements were observed for all the outcome measures (p < .05) in both groups. Improvements in Voice Handicap Index-10 in the telepractice group (24.84 +/- 5.49 to 16.80 +/- 8.94) were comparable to those in the conventional group (22.17 +/- 7.29 to 13.46 +/- 9.95, p = .764). Other parameters also showed comparable improvements between the two groups without statistically significant differences. Conclusions This is the first randomized controlled trial comparing telepractice and conventional voice therapy in elderly patients with voice disorders. The results showed that the effectiveness of voice therapy via telepractice was not inferior to that of conventional voice therapy, indicating that telepractice can be used as an alternative to provide voice care for elderly patients with vocal disorders.

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