Teachers are at risk of developing voice disorders, but longitudinal studies on voice problems among teachers are lacking. The aim of this randomized trial was to investigate long-term effects of voice education for teacher students with mild voice problems. In addition, vocal health was examined prospectively in a group of students without voice problems.
First-semester students answered three questionnaires: one about background factors, one about voice symptoms (Screen6), and the Voice Handicap Index. Students with voice problems according to the questionnaire results were randomized to a voice training group or a control group. At follow-up in the sixth semester, all students answered Screen6 again together with four questions about factors that could have affected vocal health during their teacher education. The training group and the control group also answered the Voice Handicap Index a second time.
At follow-up, 400 students remained in the study: 27 in the training group, 54 in the control group, and 319 without voice problems at baseline. Voice problems had decreased somewhat more in the training group than in the control group, but the difference was not statistically significant (P?=?0.1). However, subgroup analyses showed significantly larger improvement among the students in the group with complete participation in the training program compared with the group with incomplete participation. Of the 319 students without voice problems at baseline, 14% had developed voice problems.
Voice problems often develop in teacher students. Despite extensive dropout, our results support the hypothesis that voice education for teacher students has a preventive effect.