By Olympia Karagkouni, Excecutive Speech Therapist and Master´s student at SAERA


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects that the use of protective
face mask has over the voice and to search for associations between the self-reported voice
changes and the levels of discomfort experienced by the participants. Also, to detect any
change it the phonatory patterns while speaking with face mask.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional, observational study, conducted by distributing an
online questionnaire. From a total of 155 people who participated in the study, 143 of them
wore protective face mask during their working hours and qualified. Five groups of questions
were used to measure the Speech Difficulties, the Mask Related Behaviors caused by the use
of face mask, alterations in the Voice Perceptual Features, the Vocal Tract Discomfort levels
and the Greek version of the Voice Handicap Index. The participants self-evaluated their
voice and stated the frequency and severity of the symptoms they experienced during the
mask usage period.

Results: The results showed that the use of protective face mask increases the self-perception
of changes in the voice, especially in the voice-breathing coordination and has great effect
on the intelligibility and overall commu nication. The majority of people stated that they have
to speak louder and that they have noticed alterations in the perceptual features of their voice,
with hoarseness, and volume being the most frequently affected. Almost every symptom on
the Vocal Tract Discomfort Group was present with Dry, Lump in Throat, Tight, and Short
Breath being the most severe, and Dry and Short breath being the most common among them.
Physical, Func tional, and Emotional affectations were also observed through the Voice
Handicap Index.

Conclusion: The use of protective face mask increases the vocal effort of the speaker, affects
the voice-breathing coordination, limits the overall communication, alters the perceptual
features of the voice, increases vocal track discomfort levels and results in psychosocial and
socioemotional difficulties. All these affectations may result to the establishment of a voice
disorder, especially in high-risk population.

Keywords: Voice, Face Mask, Coronavirus, Hyperfunctional dysphonia, Vocal effort, Self

Download the full Research Work: Olympia Karagkouni (2021). The Effects of the Use of Protective Face Mask on the Voice and Its Relation to Self-Perceived Voice Changes. SAERA


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