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Stuttering burden and psychosocial impact (Engelen et al., 2024)

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posted on 2024-04-16, 14:43 authored by Marscha M. Engelen, Marie-Christine J. P. Franken, Lottie W. Stipdonk, Sarah E. Horton, Victoria E. Jackson, Sheena Reilly, Angela T. Morgan, Simon E. Fisher, Sandra van Dulmen, Else Eising

Purpose: Stuttering is a speech condition that can have a major impact on a person’s quality of life. This descriptive study aimed to identify subgroups of people who stutter (PWS) based on stuttering burden and to investigate differences between these subgroups on psychosocial aspects of life.

Method: The study included 618 adult participants who stutter. They completed a detailed survey examining stuttering symptomatology, impact of stuttering on anxiety, education and employment, experience of stuttering, and levels of depression, anxiety, and stress. A two-step cluster analytic procedure was performed to identify subgroups of PWS, based on self-report of stuttering frequency, severity, affect, and anxiety, four measures that together inform about stuttering burden.

Results: We identified a high- (n = 230) and a low-burden subgroup (n = 372). The high-burden subgroup reported a significantly higher impact of stuttering on education and employment, and higher levels of general depression, anxiety, stress, and overall impact of stuttering. These participants also reported that they trialed more different stuttering therapies than those with lower burden.

Conclusions: Our results emphasize the need to be attentive to the diverse experiences and needs of PWS, rather than treating them as a homogeneous group. Our findings also stress the importance of personalized therapeutic strategies for individuals with stuttering, considering all aspects that could influence their stuttering burden. People with high-burden stuttering might, for example, have a higher need for psychological therapy to reduce stuttering-related anxiety. People with less emotional reactions but severe speech distortions may also have a moderate to high burden, but they may have a higher need for speech techniques to communicate with more ease. Future research should give more insights into the therapeutic needs of people highly burdened by their stuttering.

Supplemental Material S1. Identification and description of stuttering subgroups.

Supplemental Material S2. Results of sensitivity analysis for age groups.

Supplemental Material S3. R code for cluster inspection and principal component analysis.

Engelen, M. M., Franken, M.-C. J. P., Stipdonk, L. W., Horton, S. E., Jackson, V. E., Reilly, S., Morgan, A. T., Fisher, S. E., van Dulmen, S., & Eising, E. (2024). The association between stuttering burden and psychosocial aspects of life in adults. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 67(5), 1385–1399.


E.E. and S.E.F. are financially supported by the Max Planck Society. E.E. is also supported by a Veni grant of the Dutch Research Council (Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek; VI.Veni.202.072). M.M.E. is supported by a grant of “het Stotterfonds,” a Dutch foundation dedicated to education and scientific research on stuttering.