No AccessAmerican Journal of Speech-Language PathologyResearch Article17 Aug 2023

A Comparison of Voice Amplifiers and Personal Communication Systems for Hypophonia: An Exploration of Communicative Participation

    Purpose:

    The primary purpose of this study was to evaluate how individuals with hypophonia (HP; also referred to as HP participants) and their primary communication partners (PCPs; also referred to as PCP participants) rate communicative participation before and after experience with a speech amplification device. A secondary purpose was to evaluate pre- and post-device effects on self-rated communicative participation for each of the three speech amplification devices trialed outside of the laboratory.

    Method:

    Seventeen individuals with HP and their PCPs participated in a crossover design study that compared three different amplification devices: a wired belt-pack amplifier, a wireless stationary amplifier, and a personal frequency modulation (FM) system. Both the individuals with HP and their PCPs self-rated communicative participation at baseline and after trialing each device following 1-week device trial periods at home. Patient-reported outcome measures included the Communicative Effectiveness Survey (CES) and the Voice Activity and Participation Profile (VAPP). Following study completion, participants indicated whether they would like to select a specific device to continue using.

    Results:

    Overall, HP participants rated communicative participation following device use higher than that in the pre-device condition, with the FM system resulting in the overall highest VAPP ratings and second highest CES ratings. Furthermore, HP and PCP participants rated these measures similarly. Finally, HP participants who selected a device to continue using self-reported lower total communicative effectiveness scores and greater voice activity limitations and participation restrictions at baseline in comparison to the nonselectors.

    Conclusions:

    This study contributes to an increased understanding of how communicative participation is experienced within this clinical population resulting from speech amplification. It is suggested that the inclusion of participation-based outcome measurement is essential to ensure a multidimensional and comprehensive approach to device prescription for individuals with HP.

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