PURPOSE: Social anxiety disorder is a debilitating anxiety disorder associated with significant life impairment. The purpose of the present study is to evaluate overall functioning for adults who stutter with and without a diagnosis of social anxiety disorder.
METHOD: Participants were 275 adults who stuttered (18-80 years), including 219 males (79.6%) and 56 females (20.4%), who were enrolled to commence speech treatment for stuttering. Comparisons were made between participants diagnosed with social anxiety disorder (n = 82, 29.8%) and those without that diagnosis (n = 193, 70.2%).
RESULTS: Although the socially anxious group was significantly younger than the non-socially anxious group, no other demographic differences were found. When compared to the non-socially anxious group, the socially anxious group did not demonstrate significantly higher self-reported stuttering severity or percentage of syllables stuttered. Yet the socially anxious group reported more speech dissatisfaction and avoidance of speaking situations, significantly more psychological problems, and a greater negative impact of stuttering.
CONCLUSION: Significant differences in speech and psychological variables between groups suggest that, despite not demonstrating more severe stuttering, socially anxious adults who stutter demonstrate more psychological difficulties and have a more negative view of their speech. The present findings suggest that the demographic status of adults who stutter is not worse for those with social anxiety disorder. These findings pertain to a clinical sample, and cannot be generalized to the wider population of adults who stutter from the general community. Further research is needed to understand the longer-term impact of social anxiety disorder for those who stutter.