OBJECTIVES - We undertook to explore the relationship between non-neoplastic voice disorders and patients' quality of life.
METHODS - A PubMed search (1966 to 2003) for the terms Voice Handicap Index (VHI), Short Form-36 (SF-36), voice disorders, voice quality, treatment outcome, voice outcome, quality of life, and questionnaires was performed. Raw data were obtained whenever possible. Studies were analyzed by meta-analysis techniques.
RESULTS - Of 54 VHI studies identified, 11 were excluded, and of 21 SF-36 studies, 7 were excluded for incomplete data, non-English language, measuring malignant disease, or duplicate publication. Patients with neurologic and inflammatory or traumatic laryngeal disease had worse VHI scores than controls, and those with neurologic laryngeal disease had the most severe impairment (p < .001, Kruskal-Wallis analysis of variance; p < .05, Dunn's method of multiple comparisons). Those with neurologic laryngeal disease had worse SF-36 subdomain scores than did controls in 6 of 8 subdomains (p < .03, Kruskal-Wallis analysis of variance; p < .05, Dunn's method of multiple comparisons). Both patients with neurologic disease and patients with inflammatory or traumatic laryngeal disorders had changes in SF-36 subdomains similar to those of patients with other chronic disease states.
CONCLUSIONS - Non-neoplastic voice disorders adversely impact patients' voice-related and general quality of life, and neurologic voice disorders have the greatest impact.