Independence of Vocal Load From Vocal Pathology Across Singing Genres

Ana Flavia Zuim, Julia Gerhard, Adam T. Lloyd, David E. Rosow, Donna S. Lundy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To investigate the extent to which vocal load is associated with previous diagnosis of a vocal pathology among four major genres of singers (primarily classical, primarily musical theatre (MT), classical and MT combined, and contemporary commercial music only). Study design: Cross sectional survey. Methods/design: An anonymous online survey was sent out to about 1000 professional singers through convenience sampling to touring companies, opera companies, MT companies, agents, directors and musical directors. Social media and email were used to solicit participation in the study. We utilized means and standard deviations for continuous characteristics and frequencies and percentages for categorical characteristics and calculated P values to assess whether differences were statistically significant. Results: A total of 396 professional singers completed the survey, yielding a 40% response rate. Nonprofessional singers, incomplete surveys, and respondents <18 years old were excluded, resulting in a total of 238 responses. Among the 238 participants, 32% were performing in the classical style primarily, 33% in the MTstyle primarily, 15% in both classical and MT, and 20% in other contemporary styles only. Mean age was highest among CV + MT and lowest among primarily MT. Combined classical/MT singers were most likely to have a career outside of vocal performance and continue to work in that career followed by other contemporary styles, classical and MT (P = 0.02). Participants in the combined classical/MT group were most likely to have a reported history of vocal pathology followed by classical, other contemporary styles and MT (not statistically significant). However, participants in the contemporary styles were most likely to have a history of more than one type of vocal pathology. Mean vocal load was highest for the MT group. Other nonsinging factors proved significant such as allergy, hydration and acid reflux. Symptoms of allergies were found to be significant across singing genres. A possible reverse causality association was identified in regards to water intake. Participants with acid reflux were three times more likely to have ever reported vocal pathology. Conclusion: Vocal load was not significantly associated with vocal pathology across singing genres; however other nonsinging factors such as allergy, reflux and water intake were significantly associated with vocal pathology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Voice
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Singing
  • Vocal load
  • Vocal pathology
  • Vocal pedagogy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Speech and Hearing
  • LPN and LVN


Dive into the research topics of 'Independence of Vocal Load From Vocal Pathology Across Singing Genres'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this