Research Update: Verbal contingencies in the Lidcombe Program

An investigation of the role of parental request for self-correction of stuttering in the Lidcombe Program

by Donaghy et al. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology 2015; 5, 511-517

The use of verbal contingencies is a key component of the Lidcombe Program. Speech Therapy research on the Lidcombe Program is ongoing and is constantly scrutinising all the treatment components to determine which elements of this stuttering treatment are most critical and effective. This journal article describes how one particular verbal contingency – requests for self-correction – was put under the microscope to look at its impact in the treatment of early stuttering using the Lidcombe Program.

In this clinical experiment, 34 parent-child dyads were randomly assigned to either a control group, who received the standard Lidcombe Program, or to an experimental group, who received the same program without the instruction to use requests for self-correction. The results of each group’s treatment were compared by these outcome measures:

– the number of clinic visits and

– the number of weeks to a sustained 50% reduction in stuttering severity.

Stuttering severity was measured by comparing average parental severity ratings recorded across each week before and during treatment. The researchers also calculated the percentage of syllables stuttered before and during treatment to validate the parent ratings.

The researchers found no significant difference in the outcome measures for the two groups. In other words, both groups took about the same amount of time to reach the reduced level of stuttering. These results are compelling but it’s too soon to make changes to the Lidcombe Program. A fifty percent reduction in stuttering is not necessarily the very low levels or eradication of stuttering that we usually see at the end of Stage One of the program. Further research is needed to see if removing this contingency still results in long-term fluency gains.

As a clinician working in Perth, WA with young children who stutter, such research and reports are welcome and reassuring. We all wish to give our clients the very best treatment. This ongoing scrutiny and continuous improvement to the Lidcombe Program, means that future clients can expect great outcomes with less treatment time.