Association between Communicative Participation and Psychosocial Factors in Patients with Voice Disorders

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Importance: Communicative participation can be conceptualized as taking part in life situations in which people are socially engaged. Communicative participation is an important aspect in the lives of patients with voice disorders, although it has not been formally assessed among a broad sample of patients with voice disorders. The associations between communicative participation and associated concepts (vocal impairment, psychosocial distress, and voice-specific perceived control) are unknown yet important for integrated treatment approaches. Objective: The primary objective was to examine the associations between communicative participation and vocal impairment, psychosocial distress, and voice-specific perceived control. The secondary objective was to examine whether perceived control moderates the association of distress with communicative participation and vocal impairment, the latter of which would replicate previous research. The hypotheses were that communicative participation would be associated with lower vocal impairment, lower distress, and higher perceived control and that higher perceived control would moderate the association between communicative participation and both vocal impairment and psychosocial distress. Design, Setting, and Participants: This cross-sectional study was conducted from June 2014 to May 2017 among a consecutive sample of adult patients with voice disorders at an academic voice clinic affiliated with the University of Minnesota. Of the 744 patients approached to participate in the survey study, 590 patients agreed. Data analysis was performed from January to June 2020. Main Outcomes and Measures: Communicative participation (measured by the 10-item general short form of the Communicative Participation Item Bank), vocal impairment (measured by the 10-item version of the Voice Handicap Index), psychosocial distress (measured by the 18-item version of the Brief Symptom Inventory), and voice-specific perceived control (measured by the 8-item present control subscale of the Perceived Control Over Stressful Events Scale). Results: The sample comprised 590 patients (mean [SD] age, 51.9 [17.1] years; 390 women [66.1%]) with voice disorders. Communicative participation was associated with lower vocal impairment (r = -0.73; 95% CI, -0.77 to -0.69), lower overall psychosocial distress (r = -0.22; 95% CI, -0.30 to -0.14), and higher voice-specific perceived control (r = 0.30; 95% CI, 0.23-0.37). Moderation analyses indicated that communicative participation was negatively associated with distress at all levels of perceived control and, replicating previous findings, greater vocal impairment was associated with higher psychosocial distress only in patients with lower perceived control. Conclusions and Relevance: In this study, communicative participation was associated with, but distinct from, vocal impairment and was also associated with psychosocial distress and voice-specific perceived control. The study's results suggest that communicative participation is an important addition to voice research and clinical care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-252
Number of pages8
JournalJAMA Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number3
Early online dateDec 23 2020
StatePublished - Mar 2021

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