Occupational voice demands and their impact on the call-centre industry

Diane Hazlett, Orla Duffy, Anne Moorhead

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Within the last decade there has been a growth in the call-centre industry in theUK, with a growing awareness of the voice as an important tool for successful communication.Occupational voice problems such as occupational dysphonia, in a business which relies on healthy,effective voice as the primary professional communication tool, may threaten working ability andoccupational health and safety of workers. While previous studies of telephone call-agents havereported a range of voice symptoms and functional vocal health problems, there have been nostudies investigating the use and impact of vocal performance in the communication industry withinthe UK. This study aims to address a significant gap in the evidence-base of occupational health andsafety research. The objectives of the study are: 1. to investigate the work context and vocalcommunication demands for call-agents; 2. to evaluate call-agents' vocal health, awareness andperformance; and 3. to identify key risks and training needs for employees and employers withincall-centres.Methods and design: This is an occupational epidemiological study, which plans to recruit callcentresthroughout the UK and Ireland. Data collection will consist of three components: 1.interviews with managers from each participating call-centre to assess their communication andtraining needs; 2. an online biopsychosocial questionnaire will be administered to investigate thework environment and vocal demands of call-agents; and 3. voice acoustic measurements of arandom sample of participants using the Multi-dimensional Voice Program (MDVP). Qualitativecontent analysis from the interviews will identify underlying themes and issues. A multivariateanalysis approach will be adopted using Structural Equation Modelling (SEM), to develop voicemeasurement models in determining the construct validity of potential factors contributing tooccupational dysphonia. Quantitative data will be analysed using SPSS version 15. Ethical approvalis granted for this study from the School of Communication, University of Ulster.Discussion: The results from this study will provide the missing element of voice-based evidence,by appraising the interactional dimensions of vocal health and communicative performance. Thisinformation will be used to inform training for call-agents and to contribute to health policies withinthe workplace, in order to enhance vocal health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-112
JournalBMC Public Health
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2009


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