Background. In some professions, the factors, which increase the possibility of voice problems occurrence can be detected. Among the occupations, which include a greater amount of voice load and at the same time a requirement for good voice quality, there are the professions of singers and actors. The purpose of the study was to determine how frequent the voice problems occur among professional actors and singers and candidates for these professions. We also investigated the potential causes for voice problems.
Metodology. 65 professional actors, 63 professional singers from professional theatres and choirs and 36 candidates for drama play studies and 31 candidates for solo singing studies, who were examined in the Centre for disorder of voice, speech and swallowing problems at the Department of Otorhinolaryngology and Cervicofacial Surgery of Medical Centre Ljubljana, between 2011 and 2014 were included in our study. The data about voice problems of the participants and their possible causes were obtained with an anonymous questionnaire. For The data on medical history and findings of foniatric or speech therapist’s examination and the results of the acoustic and aerodynamic analysis of their voice samples were taken from the medical documentation of the examined candidates. We compared (i) the groups of young candidates for the professions with large voice load (ii) the groups of singers and actors and (iii) the candidates for each profession with voice load and the actual elite voice users (singers and actors) and the subset of professional singers and actors with and without the frequent voice problems.
The results. The results have shown that the professional actors and drama play candidates display more inappropriate voice and speech patterns than the professional solo singers and solo singing candidates. Professional actors also have more risk factors which have a negative effect on their voice. Professional actors and candidates for drama play studies differed significantly in inappropriate voice habits, the presence of LPR and the frequency of voice problems. In addition, compared to the candidates of solo singing studies, the presence of LPR and the voice problem frequency were significantly higher in the professional singers. We also compared a group of professional singers with frequent voice problems to the group of professional singers without the frequent voice problems and found out, that there are more negative factors for voice in the group of the professional singers with more voice problems. Very important risk factors turned out to be loud speech and the presence of allergies. The comparison of the group of professional actors with frequent voice problems to the group of professional actors without frequent voice problems did not show any particular differences. More than a half of the group of professional actors and the candidates for drama play studies are smokes.
Conclusions. According to the results, the professional actors and singers have insufficient knowledge of a proper voice care. Worse voice behaviour showed actors, whose percentage of inappropriate speech and smoking habits was too high for an elite voice user representative. The results confirmed the importance of preventive examinations before the enrolment in drama play and solo singing, therefore only candidates with healthy and efficient voice apparatus could enrol in these study programmes. The results also stressed the fact that both, professional singers and actors, would need additional information about the risk factors, which impair their voice quality as well as occasional foniatric or speech and language therapist’s examinations. It is a speech and language therapist that could have played a vital part in lifelong learning and monitoring the elite voice users and thus efficient prevention of the voice problems that might render them unable to perform their profession.