A scoping review of health-related stigma outcomes for high-burden diseases in low- and middle-income countries

Jeremy C. Kane*, Melissa A. Elafros, Sarah M. Murray, Ellen M.H. Mitchell, Jura L. Augustinavicius, Sara Causevic, Stefan D. Baral

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

90 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Stigma is associated with health conditions that drive disease burden in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), including HIV, tuberculosis, mental health problems, epilepsy, and substance use disorders. However, the literature discussing the relationship between stigma and health outcomes is largely fragmented within disease-specific siloes, thus limiting the identification of common moderators or mechanisms through which stigma potentiates adverse health outcomes as well as the development of broadly relevant stigma mitigation interventions. Methods: We conducted a scoping review to provide a critical overview of the breadth of research on stigma for each of the five aforementioned conditions in LMICs, including their methodological strengths and limitations. Results: Across the range of diseases and disorders studied, stigma is associated with poor health outcomes, including help- and treatment-seeking behaviors. Common methodological limitations include a lack of prospective studies, non-representative samples resulting in limited generalizability, and a dearth of data on mediators and moderators of the relationship between stigma and health outcomes. Conclusions: Implementing effective stigma mitigation interventions at scale necessitates transdisciplinary longitudinal studies that examine how stigma potentiates the risk for adverse outcomes for high-burden health conditions in community-based samples in LMICs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17
JournalBMC Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The publication of this paper was supported by the Fogarty International Center of the National Institutes of Health. Efforts by JCK, SMM, and SDB were supported in part by the National Institutes of Mental Health and Office of AIDS Research of the National Institutes of Health under award number R01MH110358. This publication was also supported with help from the Johns Hopkins University Center for AIDS Research, an NIH funded program (P30AI094189), which is funded by the following NIH Institutes and Centers: NIAID, NCI, NICHD, NHLBI, NIDA, NIMH, NIA, FIC, NIGMS, NIDDK, and OAR. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s).


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