Social anxiety disorder in adults who stutter

Depress Anxiety. 2010 Jul;27(7):687-92. doi: 10.1002/da.20657.


Background: The nature and prevalence of social anxiety disorder (social phobia (SP)) in people who stutter is uncertain, and DSM-IV differential diagnosis guidelines make it difficult to classify an adult who stutters (AWS) with SP as it is assumed any social anxiety symptoms will be a consequence of their stuttering. The aim of this study was to determine the spot prevalence of SP in AWS and to investigate differences in social anxiety between AWS and controls who do not stutter.

Methods: The study involved a comprehensive assessment of 200 AWS and 200 adults who do not stutter similar in age and sex ratio. Measures included stuttering severity, health status, self-report measures of social anxiety as well as a structured diagnostic interview for SP for randomly selected sub-group of 50 from each group.

Results: The AWS were found to have significantly raised trait and social anxiety, as well as significantly increased risk of SP in comparison to the controls. Findings indicated a SP spot prevalence of at least 40% in AWS, and for them to be at high risk of having Generalized SP.

Conclusions: It is concluded that the DSM-IV diagnostic guidelines for diagnosing SP in AWS could result in professional confusion and have possible negative mental health ramifications. Implications for the psychological and medical treatment of AWS are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety Disorders / complications
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Social Behavior*
  • Stuttering / complications
  • Stuttering / psychology*