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Sep 27, 2006

Frequency of stuttering during virtual reality job interviews

Frequency of stuttering during challenging and supportive virtual reality job interviews.

J Fluency Disord. 2006 Sep 23;

Authors: Brundage SB, Graap K, Gibbons KF, Ferrer M, Brooks J

This paper seeks to demonstrate the possibility of manipulating the frequency of stuttering using virtual reality environments (VREs). If stuttering manifests itself in VREs similarly to the way it manifests itself in real world interactions, then VREs can provide a controlled, safe, and confidential method for treatment practice and generalization. Though many researchers and clinicians recognize the need for generalization activities in the treatment of stuttering, achieving generalization in a clinical setting poses challenges to client confidentiality, safety, and the efficient use of a professionals' time. Virtual reality (VR) technology may allow professionals the opportunity to enhance and assess treatment generalization while protecting the safety and confidentiality of their clients. In this study, we developed a VR job interview environment which allowed experimental control over communication style and gender of interviewers. In this first trial, persons who stutter (PWS) experienced both challenging and supportive VR job interview conditions. The percentage of stuttered syllables was calculated for both interviews for each participant. Self-reported ratings of communication apprehension and confidence were also obtained, and were not significantly correlated with stuttering severity. Results indicated that interviewer communication style affected the amount of stuttering produced by participants, with more stuttering observed during challenging virtual interviews. Additionally, the amount of stuttering observed during the VR job interviews was significantly, positively correlated with the amount of stuttering observed during an interview with the investigator prior to VR exposure. Participants' subjective reports of the VR experience indicate reactions similar to those they report experiencing in the real world. Possible implications for the use of VR in the assessment and treatment of stuttering are discussed. Educational objectives: After reading this article, the reader will be able to-(1) list some of the challenges to treatment generalization; (2) describe how virtual reality technology can assist in alleviating some of these challenges; (3) describe how the frequency of stuttering varies across two different virtual environments.

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