A life-time of stuttering: How emotional reactions to stuttering impact activities and participation in older people

Geraldine Bricker-Katz, Michelle Lincoln, Patricia McCabe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) framework has a pragmatic focus on how impairment impacts the individual's activities and participation. Stuttering is known to impact communication in younger adults but this has not been established in older people who stutter. In this study, emotional reactions to stuttering were investigated in a group 55 years and older who self-reported stuttering since childhood. Method: This was a cross-sectional descriptive design. Twelve participants who self-reported that they still stuttered and in whom stuttering was confirmed, and 14 controls completed the Fear of Negative Evaluation Scale (FNES), The Endler Multi-dimensional Anxiety Scales-Trait (EMAS-T) and The Australian Personal Wellbeing Index (PWA-I). Participants whose stuttering persisted also completed the Overall Assessment of Speakers Experience of Stuttering (OASES). Results: The group who stuttered scored significantly higher on the FNES, with scores in the social phobia range. Responses on the OASES showed that stuttering continues to be a negative experience for this older group. Results for the EMAS-T and PWA-I were within the average range across both participant groups however significant differences existed between the groups in the social evaluative and physical danger domains of the EMAS-T, and the satisfaction with health domain of the PWA-I. Conclusions: Significant fear of negative evaluation, which is the key feature for social anxiety, was found in the group of older people who stuttered with a higher level of trait anxiety in social evaluative domains. The OASES showed that they also reacted to stuttering and communication in daily situations with moderate to severe impact scores which showed that stuttering impacted on speaking activities and by those negative experiences limited communication. Limited communication and restricted participation in the lives of older people have implications for healthy productive ageing and this is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1742-1752
Number of pages11
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes


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