Original Research

Why do people who stutter attend stuttering support groups?

Nicola E. Bloye, Shabnam S. Abdoola, Casey J. Eslick
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 70, No 1 | a958 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v70i1.958 | © 2023 Nicola E. Bloye, Shabnam S. Abdoola, Casey J. Eslick | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 November 2022 | Published: 03 August 2023

About the author(s)

Nicola E. Bloye, Department of Speech Language Pathology and Audiology, Faculty of Humanities, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Shabnam S. Abdoola, Department of Speech Language Pathology and Audiology, Faculty of Humanities, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa, South Africa
Casey J. Eslick, Department of Speech Language Pathology and Audiology, Faculty of Humanities, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa; and, Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, Faculty of Health Care Sciences, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Pretoria, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Stuttering support groups (SSGs) have been a long-standing invaluable resource for people who stutter (PWS) but research into SSGs is only emerging. Speech-language therapists (SLTs) need further insight to successfully facilitate SSGs.

Objectives: To determine PWS’ perspectives regarding why they attend SSGs in South Africa.

Method: Thirteen PWS who attend SSGs, between 20 and 58 years old, were a part of this qualitative study. Purposive sampling was utilised. Semi-structured telephonic interviews were used and data was analysed thematically.

Results: Four themes, namely, ‘altered perceptions’, ‘increased sense of community’, ‘support group reciprocity’, and ‘support group environment, participants and topics’, were identified. The results yielded clinical implications which included SLTs encouraging: (1) improved perceptions of being a PWS through education and self-empowerment, (2) PWS’ connections between meetings to increase the sense of community, (3) reciprocity in meetings, (4) sharing personal stories to promote learning and general self-management and (5) support, praise and education to empower and encourage PWS. This study’s findings show that SSGs helped PWS accept their stutter and gain confidence. This study showcased how SSGs can help PWS manage their fluency and gain confidence. Additionally, this study supports current research which suggests that dysfluency and social-emotional well-being should be equally addressed.

Conclusion: Recommendations were generated from PWS’ perspectives and included focusing discussions on fluency, emotions and sharing personal stories. Insights from PWS helped better inform SLTs of their role within SSGs including guiding and facilitating conversations.

Contribution: People who stutters’ perspectives can be used in clinical practice to help SLTs meet the needs of PWS and guide best practice when facilitating SSGs.


Keywords

dysfluency; people who stutter; perspectives; social support; speech-language therapists (SLTs); stuttering; stuttering support groups (SSGs); quality of life

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