No AccessJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing ResearchResearch Article1 Oct 2003

Anxiety Levels in People Who Stutter

A Randomized Population Study

    The question of whether people who stutter are generally more anxious than people who do not stutter has not yet been resolved. One major methodological barrier to determining whether differences exist has been the type of stuttering sample used. Studies investigating anxiety levels of those who stutter have mostly assessed people referred to stuttering therapy clinics, which is arguably a biased sample. To date, no studies have been published that have measured the anxiety levels of people who stutter in the community using random selection procedures. Such a sample is more likely to be representative of the population of people who stutter. The present study involved a random selection and telephone interview of people in 4,689 households. The telephone respondent was given a description of stuttering and asked if any person living in their household stuttered. If yes, a number of corroborative questions were asked, and permission was requested to tape the speech of the person believed to stutter over the telephone. A definite case of stuttering was based on (a) a positive detection of stuttering from the tape and (b) at least one of the corroborative questions supporting the diagnosis. A total of 87 people were identified as definite cases of stuttering across all ages, and 63 participants who were 15 years or older completed a trait anxiety questionnaire over the telephone. Mean trait anxiety levels were significantly higher than levels generally found in society, though differences were not large. Implications of these results are discussed.

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