Background & Aims: A specific, occupation-related susceptibility of professional singers to experience gastroesophageal reflux was hypothesized. We investigated the prevalence of gastroesophageal reflux symptoms in a series of professional opera choristers in comparison with a general population sample. Methods: A total of 351 professional opera choristers from well-known choirs in different Italian regions were identified and a sample of 578 subjects residing in the same areas with a similar distribution in age and sex was selected. Reflux symptoms in the year preceding the survey together with selected individual characteristics and lifestyle habits were investigated in both study groups through a structured questionnaire. Prevalence rate ratios, adjusted for sex, age, body mass index, smoking status, alcohol consumption, and other confounding factors, were computed. Results: Opera choristers reported a statistically significant higher prevalence of heartburn, regurgitation, cough, and hoarse voice than the population sample, with adjusted prevalent rate ratios of 1.60 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.32-1.94), 1.81 (95% CI, 1.42-2.30), 1.40 (95% CI, 1.18-1.67), and 2.45 (95% CI, 1.97-3.04), respectively. Regurgitation appeared to be associated consistently with the cumulative lifetime duration of singing activity (P = .04) and with the weekly duration of singing activity (P = .005) when different multivariate models were applied. Conclusions: Opera choristers reported a higher prevalence of reflux symptoms than the population sample. Future studies will be needed to clarify whether gastroesophageal reflux in professional opera choristers is stress-induced and therefore may be considered as a work-related disease.
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