A follow-up study of 45 patients with elective mutism

Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2001 Dec;251(6):284-96. doi: 10.1007/pl00007547.


Forty five patients (23 boys and 22 girls) with elective mutism (8.7 +/- 3.6 years old), who were referred to a university department and a child guidance clinic within a 15-year-period, were followed up on average 12 years later. For 41 of them, sufficient information could be obtained at follow-up, and 31 patients could be investigated personally. At follow-up, an interview and a standardized psychopathological examination were carried out as well as two standardized biographic inventories. The main results were: 1) a high load of individual and family psychopathology was characteristic of the patients. The disorder started already at age 3 to 4 and referral age was 8 years on average. 2) In 16 out of 41 patients (39%), a complete remission could be observed. All other patients still revealed some communication problems. 3) The formerly mute patients described themselves as less independent, less motivated with regard to school achievement, less self-confident and less mature and healthy in comparison to a normal reference group. 4) A poor outcome could be best predicted by the variable "mutism within the core family"at the time of referral.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Age of Onset
  • Child
  • Family / psychology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Intelligence
  • Language Development
  • Male
  • Mutism / epidemiology
  • Mutism / psychology*
  • Mutism / therapy
  • Prognosis
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Schools
  • Speech Disorders / psychology