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Functional dysphonia: strategies to improve patient outcomes

Authors Behlau M, Madazio G, Oliveira G

Received 24 June 2015

Accepted for publication 11 August 2015

Published 1 December 2015 Volume 2015:6 Pages 243—253


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Robert Howland

Mara Behlau, Glaucya Madazio, Gisele Oliveira

Voice Department, Centro de Estudos da Voz – CEV, São Paulo, Brazil

Abstract: Functional dysphonia (FD) refers to a voice problem in the absence of a physical condition. It is a multifaceted voice disorder. There is no consensus with regard to its definition and inclusion criteria for diagnosis. FD has many predisposing and precipitating factors, which may include genetic susceptibility, psychological traits, and the vocal behavior itself. The assessment of voice disorders should be multidimensional. In addition to the clinical examination, auditory-perceptual, acoustic, and self-assessment analyses are very important. Self-assessment was introduced in the field of voice 25 years ago and has produced a major impact in the clinical and scientific scenario. The choice of treatment for FD is vocal rehabilitation by means of direct therapy; however, compliance has been an issue, except for cases of functional aphonia or when an intensive training is administered. Nevertheless, there are currently no controlled studies that have explored the different options of treatment regimens for these patients. Strategies to improve patient outcome involve proper multidisciplinary diagnosis in order to exclude neurological and psychiatric disorders, careful voice documentation with quantitative measurement and qualitative description of the vocal deviation for comparison after treatment, acoustic evaluation to gather data on the mechanism involved in voice production, self-assessment questionnaires to map the impact of the voice problem on the basis of the patient's perspective, referral to psychological evaluation in cases of suspected clinical anxiety and/or depression, identification of dysfunctional coping strategies, self-regulation data to assist patients with their vocal load, and direct and intensive vocal rehabilitation to reduce psychological resistance and to reassure patient's recovery. An international multicentric effort, involving a large population of voice-disordered patients with no physical pathology, could produce enough data for achieving a consensus regarding this complex problem.

Keywords: voice, dysphonia, evaluation, patient-related outcomes, quality of life, voice handicap

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