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Work, workplaces and people who stutter


Little is known about the choices people who stutter make about work and careers and how their stuttering influences their experiences of work. This research aims to explore the work experiences of people who stutter and to design and test effective interventions that improve the workplace experiences and satisfaction of people who stutter.


Professor Michelle Lincoln, Dr Geraldine Bricker-Katz, Associate Professor Steven Cumming.

Research location

Disability and Community Research Group

Program type



This research project will determine the impact of stuttering on career choice, work performance and satisfaction from the perspective of adults who stutter and employers. Successful participation in work is considered a life activity integral to overall health, well-being, life satisfaction and economic security. Stuttering, a disruptive and debilitating speech disorder is known to impact on the career choices of people who stutter and is known to be a barrier to occupational attainment. However, how stuttering impacts in the workplace is poorly understood by people who stutter and employers.

This project will investigate three aspects of careers and workplaces of people who stutter; career choice, work performance and satisfaction. The first study seeks to establish empirically whether stuttering results in career choices incongruent with intellectual capacity, cognitive strengths and weaknesses and personal aspirations of people who stutter. For the first time the limitations in career choice perceived by people who stutter will be tested. We will establish whether people who stutter have careers that are below their intellectual and cognitive capacities. This will be investigated in two ways. The first will be a large scale study that compares the distribution of people who stutter across norm based occupational categories. This will allow us to determine if PWS are overrepresented in particular occupational categories.

The second will involve standardized occupational testing of adults who stutter and comparison of the results with their current occupation.The second aspect to be investigated in this project is the impact of stuttering in the workplace from the perspective of people who stutter and employers. Large scale surveying followed by in-depth interviewing of PWS and employers about their experiences and perceptions of stuttering in the workplace will be conducted to determine if PWS and employers hold the same set of perceptions. Similarities and differences in perceptions regarding work roles, limitations, strengths, effectiveness and promotional opportunities will be determined. In-depth interviewing will attempt to separate the impact of the speech behaviours of stuttering and the psychosocial consequences of stuttering on performance in the workplace from the PWS's and employers perspective.

The third crucial aspect of this project is an investigation of work satisfaction of PWS. There is good reason to believe that adults who stutter experience above average levels of stress and anxiety at work and reduced work satisfaction. Given that we know that well being at work is related to overall health status and quality of life it is imperitive that we understand what influences work satisfaction for people who stutter. If we want to support PWS to be productive members of the workforce who successfully reach retirement age it is important that we understand the factors that promote work satisfaction.

The results of these three related studies will provide much needed empirical and qualitative information about the career choice, work performance and work satisfaction of people who stutter. Uniquely the second study will compare the perceptions of PWS with employers to determine if there are underlying biases and assumptions that may impact career progression or work satisfaction from either PWS or employers. Taken together the results of all three investigations will greatly enhance understanding in this area and will be of interest and application to PWS, employers, career counselors, human resource professionals and speech pathologists who treat people who stutter. Ultimately the results have the potential to inform work place education about stuttering and PWS, speech and psychological interventions for people who stutter and work legislation.  

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 1573

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