Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Communication Sciences and Disorders

First Advisor

Dr. Ruth Crutchfield

Second Advisor

Dr. Jessica Stewart

Third Advisor

Mr. James Culbertson


The purpose of the present study aims to determine the perceptual and acoustic voice effects experienced by healthcare practitioners following prolonged use of face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of 19 participants were recruited and divided into control and experimental groups. Of these 19, 10 were assigned to the experimental group (E) which required participants to engage in increasing their fluid intake by 1 liter per day, while the remaining 9 were part of the control group (C) and had no additional instructions.

To gather perceptual data, a survey was created and conducted via Qualtrics software, and addressed voice perception, mask use, and demographic information. To identify acoustic measure changes, pre and post work week, recordings were collected, analyzed, and compared using PRAAT software. Additionally, comparisons between the acoustic measures of subjects in the control and experimental groups was completed to determine discrepancies that may provide insight on hydration and its role in vocal discomfort. Data is currently being analyzed due to just completing data acquisition; however, it is hypothesized that the results of this study will indicate increased perceptions of vocal discomfort across all participants as per survey responses. Comparison of each subject’s pre and post work week recordings are also hypothesized to express acoustic measure differences correlating with higher instances of vocal fatigue post work week due to prolonged voice use. Lastly, comparisons between the participants in the experimental and control group is expected to indicate less vocal discomfort as a result of increased fluid intake—a common treatment method implemented for patients experiencing vocal discomfort.Findings of this study aim to expand on the current literature regarding perceptual and acoustic effects of masks in the voice of a population that requires 1. extensive use of their voice and 2. has experienced higher requirements of mask use to decrease transmission of infection. Both variables were noted to be exacerbated by the current pandemic which has been shown to impact and increase the demand for quality care by healthcare practitioners.


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