Anxiety in 11-Year-Old Children Who Stutter: Findings From a Prospective Longitudinal Community Sample

J Speech Lang Hear Res. 2017 May 24;60(5):1211-1222. doi: 10.1044/2016_JSLHR-S-16-0035.


Purpose: To examine if a community sample of 11-year-old children with persistent stuttering have higher anxiety than children who have recovered from stuttering and nonstuttering controls.

Method: Participants in a community cohort study were categorized into 3 groups: (a) those with persistent stuttering, (b) those with recovered stuttering, and (c) nonstuttering controls. Linear regression modeling compared outcomes on measures of child anxiety and emotional and behavioral functioning for the 3 groups.

Results: Without adjustment for covariates (unadjusted analyses), the group with persistent stuttering showed significantly increased anxiety compared with the recovered stuttering group and nonstuttering controls. The group with persistent stuttering had a higher number of children with autism spectrum disorder and/or learning difficulties. Once these variables were included as covariates in subsequent analysis, there was no difference in anxiety, emotional and behavioral functioning, or temperament among groups.

Conclusion: Although recognized to be associated with stuttering in clinical samples, anxiety was not higher in school-age children who stutter in a community cohort. It may be that anxiety develops later or is less marked in community cohorts compared with clinical samples. We did, however, observe higher anxiety scores in those children who stuttered and had autism spectrum disorder or learning difficulties. Implications and recommendations for research are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety*
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / complications
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / psychology
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning Disabilities / complications
  • Learning Disabilities / psychology
  • Linear Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Parents
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recovery of Function
  • Stuttering / complications
  • Stuttering / psychology*
  • Stuttering / therapy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Temperament