Voice Problems in New Zealand Teachers: A National Survey Academic Article uri icon


  • This study determined the prevalence and nature of voice problems in New Zealand (NZ) teachers using a national self-report questionnaire.Epidemiological cross-sectional survey.Participants were 1879 primary and secondary teachers (72.5% females). Three prevalence timeframes were estimated. Severity of voice problems, recovery time, days away from work, symptoms, health assistance, and voice education were also investigated.Prevalence of self-reported vocal problems was 33.2% during their teaching career, 24.7% over the teaching year, and 13.2% on the day of the survey. Primary teachers (P<0.001; odds ratio [OR]=1.74; confidence interval [CI]=1.33-2.40), females (P=0.008; OR=1.63; CI=1.13-2.37), and those aged 51-60 years (P=0.010; OR=1.45; CI=1.11-3.00) were more likely to report problems. Among teachers reporting voice problems during the year, 47% were moderate or severe; for 30%, voice recovery took more than 1 week. Approximately 28% stayed away from work 1-3 days owing to a vocal problem and 9% for more than 3 days. Women reported longer recovery times and more days away. Symptoms associated with voice problems (P<0.001) were voice quality alteration (OR=4.35; CI=3.40-5.57), vocal effort (OR=1.15; CI=0.96-1.37), voice breaks (OR=1.55; CI=1.30-1.84), voice projection difficulty (OR=1.25; CI=1.04-1.50), and throat discomfort (OR=1.22; CI=1.02-1.47). Of the teachers reporting voice problems, only 22.5% consulted a health practitioner. Only 38% of the teachers with chronic voice problems visited an otolaryngologist. Higher hours of voice training/education were associated with fewer self-reported voice problems.Voice problems are of concern for NZ teachers, as has been reported for teachers in other countries. There is still limited awareness among teachers about vocal health, potential risks, and specialized health services for voice problems.


  • Leao, SHDS
  • Oates, JM
  • Purdy, SC
  • Scott, D
  • Morton, RP

publication date

  • 2015

has subject area