Relationship between fatigue, perfectionism, and functional dysphonia

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2011 Jun;144(6):921-6. doi: 10.1177/0194599811401236. Epub 2011 Mar 9.


Objectives: Increased levels of fatigue and perfectionism were noted during evaluation of cognitive behavioral therapy for the treatment of functional dysphonia. The investigators thus aimed to explore levels of general fatigue and perfectionism in patients with functional dysphonia and controls.

Study design: Case-control study.

Setting: Teaching hospital, United Kingdom.

Subjects and methods: Patients recruited through speech therapy were asked to recruit a friend as a control, of the same sex and within 5 years of their age. An 11-point fatigue questionnaire, previously validated on a normal population, was analyzed using both Likert (0123) and bimodal (0011) systems, with a score greater than 4 on the bimodal system implying substantial fatigue. A 35-point perfectionism questionnaire was also completed and analyzed for "healthy" and "unhealthy" perfectionist traits.

Results: There were 75 cases and 62 controls. The mean fatigue score in patients with functional dysphonia was 17.0 and 14.4 for the controls (Likert, P = .009). Under the bimodal scoring system, the mean fatigue scores in functional dysphonia (5.10) and controls (3.01) were also significantly different (P = .003). The mean perfectionism scores were 98.9 for patients with functional dysphonia and 91.2 for controls (P = 0.043).

Conclusions: To the investigators' knowledge, this is the first substantial report that fatigue and perfectionism scores are significantly elevated in functional dysphonia. Functional dysphonia is shown to be analogous to other medically unexplained physical symptoms that are also marked by generic somatopsychic distress and for which multiple factors are implicated in their onset and maintenance. This has implications for both research and treatment.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Dysphonia / epidemiology
  • Dysphonia / etiology*
  • Dysphonia / physiopathology
  • Fatigue / complications*
  • Fatigue / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Disorders / complications*
  • Personality Disorders / physiopathology
  • Personality*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology