COVID-19-related stigma and its sociodemographic correlates: a comparative study

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Global Health. 2021 May 7;17(1):54. doi: 10.1186/s12992-021-00705-4.


BACKGROUND: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is closely associated with physical and mental health problems; however, little is known about the severity of stigma caused by COVID-19 among its survivors. Thus, the aim of this study was to compare differences in stigma experiences of COVID-19 survivors versus healthy controls after the COVID-19 outbreak peak in China.

METHODS: This cross-sectional study comprised 154 COVID-19 survivors and 194 healthy controls recruited through consecutive and convenience sampling methods, respectively. COVID-19 related stigma was measured by the Social Impact Scale (SIS). Stigma differences between the two groups were compared with analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) and a generalized linear model (GLM) was used to identify independent correlates of COVID-19-related stigma in this study.

RESULTS: Compared with healthy controls, COVID-19 survivors reported more overall stigma (F(1,347) = 60.82, p < 0.001), and stigma in domains of social rejection (F(1,347) = 56.54, p < 0.001), financial insecurity (F(1,347) = 19.96, p < 0.001), internalized shame (F(1,347) = 71.40, p < 0.001) and social isolation (F(1,347) = 34.73, p < 0.001). Status as a COVID-19 survivor, having family members infected with COVID-19, being married, economic loss during the COVID-19 pandemic, and depressive symptoms were positively associated with higher overall stigma levels (all p values < 0.05).

CONCLUSION: COVID-19-related stigma is commonly experienced among COVID-19 survivors even though the outbreak has been well-contained in China. Routine assessment of stigma experiences should be conducted on COVID-19 survivors and appropriate psychological assistance, public education, and anti-stigma campaigns and policies should be enforced to reduce stigma within this vulnerable subpopulation.

PMID:33962651 | DOI:10.1186/s12992-021-00705-4