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S Afr J Commun Disord. 2017 Jun 26;64(1):e1-e7. doi: 10.4102/sajcd.v64i1.347.

Dysphonia in adults with developmental stuttering: A descriptive study.

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Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, University of Pretoria.



Persons with stuttering (PWS) often present with other co-occurring conditions. The World Health Organization's (WHO) International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) proposes that it is important to understand the full burden of a health condition. A few studies have explored voice problems among PWS, and the characteristics of voices of PWS are relatively unknown. The importance of conducting future research has been emphasised.


This study aimed to describe the vocal characteristics of PWS.


Acoustic and perceptual data were collected during a comprehensive voice assessment. The severity of stuttering was also determined. Correlations between the stuttering severity instrument (SSI) and the acoustic measurements were evaluated to determine the significance. Twenty participants were tested for this study.


Only two participants (10%) obtained a positive Dysphonia Severity Index (DSI) score of 1.6 or higher, indicating that no dysphonia was present, while 90% of participants (n = 18) scored lower than 1.6, indicating that those participants presented with dysphonia. Some participants presented with weakness (asthenia) of voice (35%), while 65% presented with a slightly strained voice quality. Moderately positive correlations between breathiness and SSI (r = 0.40, p = 0.08) have been reported. In addition, participants with high SSI scores also scored a poor DSI of below 1.6, as observed by a moderate positive correlation between SSI and DSI (r = 0.41).


The majority of PWS presented with dysphonia, evident in the perceptual or acoustic parameters of their voices. These results can be used for further investigation to create awareness and to establish intervention strategies for voice disorders among PWS.

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