Purpose: The Voice Handicap Index (VHI) is widely used and accepted into adult clinical practice. The present study was initiated to adapt the VHI to the pediatric population and to validate it in the form of a parental proxy.
Methods: The initial modification of the adult VHI involved changing the language of the statements to reflect a parent's responses about their child and eliminating questions that would not relate to children. It was administered in conjunction with 10 open-ended questions regarding the impact of the child's voice quality on overall communication, development, education, social and family life. The pVHI was then modified in content and language, and the final 23-item parental proxy product was used for the validation process. The modified pVHI was administered to two groups of patients following IRB approval from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.
Results: Normative data was obtained from 45 parents of healthy children. The group consisted of 21 males, age ranges 3-12 years old. The mean scores of the total pVHI and its subscales are: functional (F) 1.47, physical (P) 0.20, emotional (E) 0.18 and total (T) 1.84. The test group consisted of 33 guardians of children presenting for a voice evaluation pre- or post-laryngotracheal reconstruction. This group differed greatly from the control group on each subscale and total score. The mean scores of the airway group were as follows: F 13.94, P 15.48, E 12.15 and T 41.58. Test-retest reliability of the total pVHI score was measured using Pearson's correlation coefficient. The scores were 0.95, 0.77, 0.79 and 0.82, respectively. A correlation matrix for pVHI subscore and total score showed significance, with results similar to those reported for the original adult VHI.
Conclusions: The aim of the present study was to modify the VHI to serve a similar role in the evaluation of the effects of dysphonia on the pediatric population. The statistical results reveal a high correlation between the VHI and the pVHI. The pVHI provides a high internal consistency and test-retest reliability. This tool will be utilized to follow a child's development following surgical, medical and behavioral interventions.