Date of Award

2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Speech Pathology (Honours)

School

School of Psychology and Social Science

Faculty

Health, Engineering and Science

First Advisor

Dr Charn Nang

Second Advisor

Associate Professor Deborah Hersh

Abstract

Background and Purpose: Research suggests that stuttering can impact an individual’s quality of life and how they perceive themselves in interactions with others. As a larger proportion of adults who stutter are men, limited research is available regarding the specific experiences of women who stutter (WWS). Existent literature regarding WWS was mainly published in the 1970s -1980s and may no longer represent current issues. This study aimed to explore the current influences on quality of life, perception of stuttering, self-management strategies, and gender issues experienced by WWS.

Methods and Procedures: This grounded theory study used a convenience sample of eight WWS recruited through the Speak Easy Association in WA, a support network for people who stutter. Participants came from diverse cultural backgrounds and their ages ranged for 35-80. In-depth, semi-structured interviews (35-40 mins long) were conducted in participant’s homes, the first of these acting as a pilot. Interviews were audio/video recorded and transcribed verbatim to form raw data. Thematic analysis was performed using the NVivo 10 qualitative analysis software program to manage and code data. Intermediate coding and mapping the relationships between categories, themes and subthemes established emerging patterns. The Overall Assessment of the Speakers Experience of Stuttering (OASES) was also utilised to complement interpretation of qualitative data.

Outcomes and Results: Through thematic analysis of interview transcripts, a central category of Sense of Self (SOS) was identified, surrounded by the emerging key themes of Relationships, Responses of Others, and Self-Management. Various interrelated subthemes were also observed. These categories, themes, and subthemes were fluid throughout co-occurring data collection and analysis phases and did not exist independently of one another, sharing complex relationships. OASES scores generally reflected interview content, affirming the use of this tool in quantifying the impact of stuttering on the lives of people who stutter.

Conclusions: This study found that quality of life, perception of stuttering, SOS and identity were impacted by stuttering in these eight WWS. The key points of influence for the eight participants were relationships with family, friends, romantic partners, and the responses from those from their workplace or cultural background towards their stutter. The way the WWS viewed their stutter and SOS also impacted how they managed their speech. The women’s strategies for self-management were changeable depending on external life circumstances, SOS and identity. The women highlighted issues related to having children and perception of gender roles in the workplace, indicating potential gender differences in the experience of WWS confirming a need for more extensive research in this area.

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