The Effect of Information and Severity on Perception of Speakers With Adductor Spasmodic Dysphonia

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American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology





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Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of severity of adductor spasmodic dysphonia (ADSD) and information about it on unfamiliar listeners' attitudes about speakers' personal characteristics, perceived vocal effort, and listener comfort on the basis of ratings of speech recordings.

Method: Fifteen women with ADSD and 5 controls provided speech samples. Forty-five unfamiliar listeners were randomized into 3 groups. Listeners in Group 1 received no information, listeners in Group 2 were told that some speakers had voice disorders or had no voice concerns, and listeners in Group 3 were provided diagnostic labels for each speaker and information about ADSD. Listeners then rated speech samples for attitudes, perceived vocal effort, and listener comfort.

Results: Speakers with ADSD were judged significantly worse than controls for attitudes related to “social desirability” and “intellect.” There was no effect of severity on “personality” attributes. However, provision of a diagnostic label resulted in significantly more favorable personality ratings than when no label was provided. Perceived vocal effort and comfort became significantly more negative as ADSD severity increased. Finally, most listener ratings were unaffected by provision of additional information about ADSD.

Conclusions: Listeners' perceptions about speakers with ADSD are difficult to change. Directions for counseling and public education need future study.


Portions of this article were presented at the Fall Voice Meeting, October 2014, San Antonio, Texas, and at the Annual Meeting of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, November 2014, Orlando, Florida. This work is based on a thesis by Reyhaneh Rajabzadeh, submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the master of science degree in medical speech-language pathology from the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, University of Washington. We gratefully acknowledge support from the Royalty Research Fund (A88621, principal investigator: Eadie) at the University of Washington. We also would like to thank our research participants for their time and members of the Vocal Function Lab for their help with data collection and data entry.