Impact of COVID-19 on People who Stammer

Impact of COVID-19 on People who Stammer

The Covid-19 virus has resulted in a wide number of changes in our behaviour to reduce the spread of infection. Some of these changes impact on how we communicate with each other. Wearing facemasks, for example, changes our interactions since we are no longer assisted by lipreading and facial expression. Use of video-calling (e.g. zoom meetings, facetime) can also change the way we interact and make it more difficult to use non-verbal cues to indicate when we want to speak. In contrast a ‘chat’ box on a virtual platform potentially reduces pressure on communication.

Whilst these changes to the way we communicate with each other affect all of us in different ways, little is known about how they affect people with speech, language and communication challenges. One group who could be uniquely impacted are people who stammer (also known as stuttering). For example, some people who stammer may find wearing masks and using virtual meeting makes speaking easier whilst could find communication more stressful and difficult. It is also important to consider how the increased difficulties that some people who stammer may experience has led to an increase or change in referral patterns to speech and language therapy (SLT) and enquiries to support services.

In this project, we will gather the experiences of people who stammer, so that we can learn about the impact of COVID-19 on their lives. We will use the results of this project to better understand how people who stammer have been affected during COVID-19, and to develop recommendations and guidelines to provide the best support possible as we emerge from the pandemic.

The project has 3 parts:

  1. Exploring experiences of living through the pandemic, using an online survey for people who stammer aged 18 and over, based in the UK.
  2. Investigating the impact of the pandemic on referral of  children and adults who stammer to Speech And Language Therapy, using data from the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists outcome database.
  3. Exploring the impact of the pandemic on requests for support and information made to STAMMA (British Stammering Association) support services.

The project is funded by the Underwood Trust for research, and the Principal Investigator is Dr Yvonne Wren.

Take part in the survey

If you stammer, you live in the UK, and you are aged 18 or over, we are keen to hear about your experiences during COVID. You can take part in the survey at https://nbt.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/impact-of-covid-19-on-people-who-stammer. It takes around 15-20 minutes to complete.

If you’d like to learn more about what is involved in taking part, and how your responses will be used, full information is available in the PDF below:

You can also email Jennifer.chesters@nbt.nhs.uk, to discuss any questions about the survey.