Objective: The authors evaluated features of social anxiety in a group of adult stutterers to explore the soundness of the DSM-IV requirement that social phobia not be diagnosed in patients who stutter if their phobia relates to their stuttering.
Method: They conducted diagnostic interviews and verbal fluency assessments with 16 consecutive adults seeking speech therapy for stuttering. Patients also completed scales measuring social phobia symptoms and associated disability.
Results: When DSM-IV criteria were modified to permit a diagnosis of social phobia if phobic symptoms were clearly excessive in relation to the severity of stuttering, seven of the 16 patients were given a diagnosis of social phobia. All seven identified social anxiety as an important source of role impairment. Three of the seven patients entered cognitive-behavioral group therapy and benefited from this intervention.
Conclusions: Many adults seeking treatment for stuttering have salient difficulties with social anxiety that may prove amenable to cognitive-behavioral interventions. By precluding a diagnosis of social phobia in these patients, DSM-IV may hinder the identification of social anxiety as a source of disability and may limit access to treatment.