Key elements in contact, education, and protest based anti-stigma programs for stuttering

Michael P. Boyle, Lauren Dioguardi, Julie E. Pate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


An important priority for advocates in the area of stuttering has been to reduce the public stigma related to stuttering. Previous research has demonstrated that the anti-stigma approaches of interpersonal contact with individuals with lived experience with stuttering, education on myths and facts about stuttering, and protest of negative attitudes and behaviors toward stuttering can be effective for improving public attitudes. However, it is important to clarify key components of these different anti-stigma approaches. This research study used qualitative content analysis to describe important elements in these programs. Participants were 135 adults who were randomly assigned to watch one of three anti-stigma videos related to contact, education, and protest, and reported more positive attitudes about people who stutter after watching the video. Using a grounded theory approach for qualitative analysis of participant responses to an open ended question asking about what specific aspects of the videos led to their improved attitude, several themes and sub-themes were identified. Elements of a successful interpersonal contact approach included the presenter being a person who stutters (PWS), the presenter’s message describing struggles with stuttering and also the recovery process, in addition to a clear request for affirming attitudes and behaviors toward PWS. Components of successful education and protest approaches included providing a more accurate understanding of stuttering by giving facts and dispelling myths about stuttering, emphasizing that there are successful people who stutter who also have jobs that require speaking, and stating clearly PWS are fundamentally no different from other people despite their disfluent speech. The results of this study can help advocates in creating anti-stigma programs that contain empirically validated key elements, as well as generating fidelity measures for these programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-240
Number of pages9
JournalSpeech, Language and Hearing
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2 Oct 2017


  • Stuttering
  • advocacy
  • anti-stigma programs
  • fidelity measure
  • public stigma


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