New 5-year collaboration between the University of Melbourne and University of Oslo

Dr Elaina Kefalianos, Lead of Teaching for the Master of Speech Pathology, is a chief investigator on a $2.4 million project funded for 5-years by the Norwegian Research Council’s Better Health and Quality of Life program. The Effective Stuttering Treatment project is an international collaboration between experts from Norway, Australia, the UK and USA that will identify the most efficacious stuttering treatment for preschool children worldwide.


Childhood stuttering is common; affecting 1 in 10 children by 4 years of age. While many children recover naturally from stuttering, up to one third of children will develop persistent stuttering that continues throughout life. These children are at greater risk of experiencing a myriad of psychological, emotional and social difficulties. As there is currently no way of predicting who will recover and who will persist, effective early treatment is essential to reduce the likelihood of a child developing persistent stuttering.

Internationally, there is a lack of agreement regarding the most effective stuttering treatment for preschool children. Approaches to managing early stuttering differ and can be separated into two main treatment approaches: direct and indirect. Direct treatment approaches are designed to address a child’s speech directly while indirect treatment approaches focus on modifying the child’s immediate surroundings to create a fluency-inducing environment. Both approaches are supported by clinical trial evidencehowever there is a paucity of RCT evidence to determine which approach is more effective.

Aim of the study

The EST-project aims to advance the management of childhood stuttering by conducting the first randomised controlled trial (RCT) worldwide to compare two treatment approaches and a control group.

Findings will be translated via development of clinical guidelines that will initially be implemented with early childhood health professionals involved in the management of preschool children who stutter in Norway as well as development of tertiary curricula on stuttering intervention that will be taught internationally. Ultimately, it is anticipated that outcomes from this research will transform clinical practice guidelines for preschool children who stutter around the world.

You can keep up-to-date with the EST-projects latest developments on their blog.