Voice symptoms in teachers during distance teaching: a survey during the COVID-19 pandemic in Finland

Markku Patjas*, Hanna Vertanen-Greis, Petra Pietarinen, Ahmed Geneid

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Due to the coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID-19), teachers during the pandemic have had to adapt to online teaching at short notice. This study aims to investigate the voice symptoms and their environmental risk factors as well as the work ability associated with distance teaching and to compare these with symptoms in previous contact teaching.
Methods: We conducted a survey of 121 primary and secondary school teachers across Finland. The survey was advertised online through social media and the replies collected from voluntarily participating teachers.
Results: During distance teaching vocal symptoms appeared less often than in school with 71% teachers experiencing them in regular teaching and 44% in distance teaching, VHI result decreased from 7.88 in school teaching to 4.58 in distance teaching. Acoustic conditions were reported to be more suitable in distance teaching with 73% of teachers finding them adequate during distance teaching in comparison to 46% for those in regular teaching. Background noise was the most disturbing factor for a teacher's voice in the classroom and in distance teaching and this was even more conspicuous in the classroom. Also, subjectively experienced poor indoor air quality at school influenced the voice negatively. Further, voice problems were associated with increased subjective stress levels and reduced ability to work.
Conclusion: Distance teaching has affected teachers' voices in a positive way compared with regular teaching. This difference is likely to be due to better acoustics and indoor air quality in distance teaching conditions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2021
Externally publishedYes
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Voice
  • Teacher
  • Voice symptoms
  • Distance learning
  • Covid-19
  • Background noise
  • Air quality
  • Work ability


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