Self-Stigma and its Associations with Stress, Physical Health, and Health Care Satisfaction in Adults Who Stutter

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Purpose: The aim of this study was to identify potential relationships between self-stigma (stigma awareness and stigma application) and stress, physical health, and health care satisfaction among a large sample of adults who stutter. It was hypothesized that both stigma awareness and stigma application would be inversely related to measures of physical health and health care satisfaction, and positively related to stress. Furthermore, it was anticipated that stress mediated the relationship between self-stigma and physical health. Method: A sample of adults who stutter in the United States (n = 397) completed a web survey that assessed levels of stigma awareness and stigma application, stress, physical health, and health care satisfaction. Correlational analyses were conducted to determine the relationships between these variables. Results: Higher levels of stigma awareness and stigma application were associated with increased stress, decreased overall physical health, and decreased health care satisfaction (i.e., discomfort obtaining health care due to stuttering, and adverse health care outcomes due to stuttering), and these relationships were statistically significant. Stress was identified as a mediator between stigma application and physical health. Conclusion: Because adults who stutter with higher levels of self-stigma are at risk for decreased physical health through increased stress, and lower satisfaction with their health care experiences as a result of stuttering, it is important for professionals to assess and manage self-stigma in clients who stutter. Self-stigma has implications for not only psychological well-being, but stress, physical health, and health care satisfaction as well.



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