Author(s): James A Koufman
PURPOSE: The relationship between chronic stuttering and anxiety has been a matter of some debate over the past two decades, with a major emphasis of research focused on examining whether people who stutter have abnormally elevated levels of trait or social anxiety. The major goal of this paper was to perform a systematic literature review and perform meta-analyses on research that has assessed (i) trait anxiety and (ii) social anxiety, in adults who stutter. METHOD: Only studies that met strict inclusion criteria were selected for the meta-analyses. Two meta-analyses were conducted, the first for trait anxiety, and the second for social anxiety. Meta-analysis combines statistically the results of selected studies that meet strict design criteria, thereby clarifying the size of differences in trait and social anxiety between adults who stutter and adults who do not stutter. RESULTS: Meta-analytic results confirmed that adults with chronic stuttering do have substantially elevated trait and social anxiety. The overall effect size for trait and social anxiety was calculated to be .57 and .82, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Trait and social anxiety are definite problems for many adults who stutter. Clinical implications of these findings for the diagnosis and treatment of adult who stutter are discussed. EDUCATIONAL OBJECTIVES: The reader will be able to: (a) describe the process of conducting a systematic review and meta-analysis; (b) describe the possible impact of publication bias on meta-analysis results; (c) explain the impact of a chronic disorder like stuttering on levels of trait anxiety; (d) explain the impact of stuttering on levels of social anxiety; (e) interpret the results of meta-analysis when applied to differences in anxiety between adult people who stutter and those who do not stutter; and (f) describe implications for fluency enhancing treatments.