The purpose of this questionnaire study was to explore the prevalence and possible risk factors for voice problems in priests.
About 2044 evangelical Lutheran priests received a link to an electronic questionnaire and 44.1% (n = 901) completed it. Of the participants, 53% were males and 47% were females.
The results showed that the prevalence of voice problems in priests was high. Of the participants, 24.5% had sought help for voice problems and 18% reported that they had been diagnosed with a voice disorder by a physician. Twenty-one percent considered themselves as having current voice problems, and 26.7% reported frequently occurring vocal symptoms. Voice-related absenteeism was reported by 11.6%. Significantly, more females than males reported voice problems. There were significant associations between frequently occurring vocal symptoms and several environmental- and health-related risk factors. More than half of the participants considered that they had received less than 5 hours of information on the voice and voice use. The association between frequently occurring vocal symptoms and the number of hours of information on the voice and voice use was significant.
The results of this study indicate that the prevalence of voice problems among priests is high. Prevention of voice problems for priests is recommended. Voice training programs should be included in the curriculum for all those who are studying to become priests. For those already working as priests, practical courses on voice training could be arranged. Additionally, priests should get information on voice-related issues from the occupational health care or other health care services.