Hispanic Ethnicity as a Predictor of Voice Therapy Adherence

David E. Rosow, Jennylee Diaz, Debbie R. Pan, Adam T. Lloyd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Voice therapy is a well-studied, evidence-based treatment in the management of voice disorders, yet it is known that adherence rates are generally decreased due to a variety of identified factors. In light of this fact, a high rate of nonadherence to voice therapy has been anecdotally observed in the Hispanic community comprising a sizable portion of the patient population in South Florida. Objective: We sought to analyze the rates of voice therapy attendance for patients who underwent treatment for benign vocal fold nodules at a single tertiary-care academic medical center. Based on our anecdotal observations, we hypothesized that Hispanic patients would have a significantly lower rate of voice therapy attendance compared to non-Hispanic patients. Study Design: Retrospective cohort study. Methods: A retrospective chart review was performed for Hispanic and non-Hispanic patients aged 18 years and older who were diagnosed in a single hospital-based otolaryngology department with benign vocal fold nodules between 2013 and 2018. Patients with other glottic pathology or those who were not recommended voice therapy as initial treatment were excluded. Demographic data, including ethnicity, home address, and preferred language by self-report (English vs. Spanish), were obtained and analyzed. Median income levels for patients were determined by postal codes. “Adherent” status was given to patients who attended at least one voice therapy session. Statistical comparisons of continuous quantitative variables were made using Student's t test, ordinal quantitative variables using Mann-Whitney U test, and categorical variables using Fischer's exact test. Statistical significance was determined as P < 0.05. Results: One hundred eleven patients met inclusion criteria. The population was 85% female, with an average age of 41 years. Overall voice therapy adherence rate was 68%. Forty-eight percent of patients self-identified as Hispanic, and of this cohort, 42% spoke Spanish as a preferred language. Differences in annual income levels were noted between non-Hispanic and Hispanic patients ($61,799 vs. $51,697, P = 0.017), as well between English-preferring and Spanish-preferring patients ($60,276 vs. $43,504, P = 0.0014). Thirty of 53 (57%) of Hispanic patients were adherent to voice therapy, compared to 45 of 58 (78%) non-Hispanic patients (P = 0.025). No significant differences were found in age, Voice Handicap Index-10 score, or number of sessions attended between the therapy-adherent patients in the Hispanic and non-Hispanic groups. Further differences in adherence rates were noted when the Hispanic group was subclassified into English and Spanish language preferences. Fifteen of 31 (48%) English-preferring Hispanic patients attended voice therapy compared to 45 of 58 (78%) non-Hispanic patients (P = 0.0085), while Spanish-preferring Hispanic patients had a 68% therapy adherence rate (15 of 22, P = 0.4). English-preferring Hispanic patients had higher average Voice Handicap Index-10 (22.0 vs. 14.9, P = 0.018) and lower total attended sessions (2 vs. 3.6, P = 0.024) than their non-Hispanic counterparts. Conclusion: We believe this is the first study demonstrating a significantly lower rate of voice therapy adherence in Hispanic versus non-Hispanic patients. Decreased utilization of a proven treatment strategy for vocal fold nodules puts these patients at increased risk of treatment failure and decreased voice-related quality of life. Clinicians must be aware of ethnicity-based healthcare disparities and encourage proven treatment adherence to ensure highest quality of life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)329.e1-329.e5
JournalJournal of Voice
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Hispanic population
  • Voice
  • Voice disorders
  • Voice therapy adherence
  • Voice therapy attendance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • LPN and LVN
  • Speech and Hearing


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