American journal of speech-language pathology / American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
American Speech - Language - Hearing Association
Place of Publication
School of Medical and Health Sciences
Purpose: The experiences of women who stutter have been underresearched. Clinicians have little guidance from the research literature on issues specific to women who stutter and are likely to have less clinical contact with this group than with men who stutter because of the higher prevalence of stuttering in men. This study explored the experiences of a small group of women who stutter with a particular focus on what the main current issues are and how gender may have influenced experiences with stuttering.
Method: This qualitative study involved recruitment of 9 women who stutter (aged 35-80 years) through a support network of people who stutter in Western Australia. All the women had received some form of speech therapy for stuttering, and they came from diverse cultural backgrounds. Individual, semistructured interviews were conducted, recorded, and transcribed verbatim. Data were managed with NVivo 10, and thematic analysis was used to identify recurring themes across the data. Data were coded independently by the researchers and refined through group discussion. Participants also completed the Overall Assessment of the Speaker's Experience of Stuttering.
Results: A core theme of "gendered sense of self in society" emerged from the data. This related to 3 broad themes: perceptions of self that were primarily negative, the impact of stuttering on relationships and social connection with others (relationships with family, peers, colleagues, and intimate partners), and the management of stuttering (internal coping, motivations, and experiences with external support).
Conclusions: Stuttering has a pervasive impact on all aspects of women's lives and affects how they view themselves, their relationships, their career potential, and their perceptions of how others view them in society. The women interviewed in this study often had negative self-perceptions and felt that their quality of life had been impacted by their stuttering. However, the women's stories and experiences of stuttering were shaped by a broader context of perceived sociocultural expectations of females in society. Strong verbal communication was highlighted as a crucial factor in developing identity and forming relationships. This study highlights the need to be aware of the experiences of, and issues facing, women who stutter for clinicians to be more equipped, focused, and successful in their stuttering interventions for women.
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