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members of Stamma credit: Liam Arthur for Stamma
members of Stamma credit: Liam Arthur for Stamma

Press release -

Over 1.5 Million GB Adults Believe They Stammer

A recent YouGov poll suggests that 3% of the GB adult population (aged 16+), over 1.5 million people, believe they have a stammer.* And further, that over 1 million try to hide their stammer. The poll, commissioned by the charities Stamma and Action For Stammering Children suggests that the number of people directly affected by stammering is far higher than previously believed.

Jane Powell, CEO, Stamma, said: “This poll shows that potentially more than 1.5 million adults in Great Britain have a stammer, and 70% of them feel the need to hide it.** It is small wonder that so many people who stammer try to hide it when stammering is so often portrayed as a sign of weakness, dishonesty or as a joke in the media, that is, if it’s shown at all. We invite the media and those in the public eye to do more to show stammering and people who stammer in a responsible and accurate way and help us show it isn’t something to be laughed at or be embarrassed about.”

The YouGov poll showed that over half of those who say they stammer currently feel some sense of shame over their stammer (51%) with 80% feeling some degree of frustration. The poll also revealed that 23% of the general public feel comfortable with jokes about stammering. The YouGov poll echoed an earlier poll carried out by the charity amongst its members where 60% had been bullied because of their stammer, 57% said it had impacted their career and 15% felt suicidal due to their stammer.***

It has long been believed that only 1% of the general population stammers from research where individuals have been assessed by others.**** The 3% figure suggested by the self-assessment of the YouGov survey raises questions about the true prevalence of stammering in the population and the impact of the condition on an individual’s sense of identity and their mental health. Stamma are calling on stammering to be heard more frequently in the media and have applauded public figures such Ed Balls and Joe Biden who have been candid about their experiences.

“We hear from our members that stammering can leave individuals feeling very isolated. Responsible representation in the media is important as it shows people that they are not alone nor is their speech anything to be ashamed of. When stammering isn’t shown or is shown with harmful stereotypes, it perpetuates the idea that stammering is something to be hidden and this needs to stop.” Said Jane Powell.

Notes on research:

This research was conducted by YouGov on behalf of STAMMA and Action for Stammering Children. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,018 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 19th - 20th December 2019. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 16+).

* Q4a. As a reminder, by "stammering or stuttering" we mean when someone struggles to get words out, often repeats or prolongs sounds or words, or gets stuck without any sound when talking. Sometimes this includes putting in extra sounds or words. This is different from the problems most people will commonly experience when talking (i.e. the occasional hesitation or stumbling around words). Which, if any, of the following statements about stammering or stuttering apply to you? (Please select all that apply)

Base: 2018

I currently have a stammer or stutter: 58 (3%)

16+ GB population = 52,323,230 (2018) from https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity

Figure calculated by British Stammering Association, trading as Stamma.

** Q4a. As a reminder, by "stammering or stuttering" we mean when someone struggles to get words out, often repeats or prolongs sounds or words, or gets stuck without any sound when talking. Sometimes this includes putting in extra sounds or words. This is different from the problems most people will commonly experience when talking (i.e. the occasional hesitation or stumbling around words). Which, if any, of the following statements about stammering or stuttering apply to you? (Please select all that apply)

Base: 2018

I try to hide my stammer or stutter: 41 (2%)

Base: 2018

I currently have a stammer or stutter: 58 (3%)

Figure calculated by British Stammering Association, trading as Stamma

***Survey Monkey: Feb 2019 - June 2019, 260 responses:

Q2. Do you ever feel ashamed of your stammer? Often 32.31%; Sometimes 35.38%; Rarely 5%; I used to but I no longer feel ashamed of my stammer 26.15%; Never 1.15%.

Q10. Have you ever been bullied because of your stammer? Yes - As a child I was bullied because of my stammer 44.23%; Yes - As an adult I have been bullied because of my stammer 5.38%; Yes - As a child AND as an adult I have been bullied because of my stammer 11.15%; No - I have never been bullied because of my stammer 39.23%

Q15. Has the way in which people have reacted to your stammer ever left you feeling in any of the following ways (tick all that apply)? Frustrated 89.23%; Angry 65.38%; Patronised 62.69%; Anxious 65%; Depressed 59.23%; Invisible 41.54%; Not listened to 67.69%; Alone 50.77%; Awkward 78.46%; Suicidal 14.62%; N/A 1.15%.

  • ****Yairi E., & Ambrose N. (2013). Epidemiology of stuttering: 21st century advances. Journal of Fluency Disorders 38 66–87 **Survey Monkey

About Stammering

Stammering is primarily a neurological condition which usually arises during the development of the brain in childhood. Stammering is frequently hereditary and if it continues into adulthood, will mainly affect men. A stammer is an intense struggle to physically get words out; this is profoundly different from the usual hesitations and repetitions most people experience. Research suggests that 8% of children will stammer at some point with over 1.5 million (3%) UK adults reporting that they have a stammer.

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The British Stammering Association trading as ‘Stamma’.

Research suggests that 8% of people will stammer at some point in their lives with up to 3% of UK adults describing themselves as currently having a stammer.The British Stammering Association seeks to create a society where people who stammer can fulfill their potential and enjoy respect and consideration. The charity offers support, information, advice and resources to those who stammer and their families as well as educators, employers and speech and language therapists. Founded in 1978, The British Stammering Association began trading as Stamma in 2019. For more information visit Stamma.org. Helpline: 0208 880 6590. Registered Charity Numbers 1089967 / SC038866.

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Jane Powell

Jane Powell

Press contact CEO +44 20 8983 1003

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