UBC Undergraduate Research

Developing a measure for layered stigma 2009

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For more information on the Stigma study or the work of the Stigma and Resilience Among Vulnerable Youth Consortium (SARAVYC) contact: Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc UBC School of Nursing saewyc@interchange.ubc.ca Stigma Negative Effects of stigma Developing a Measure for Layered Stigma Quinn Metcalfe Background Methods -Negative effects of stigma are social, psychological, economic, political, and physical: reduced access to housing and health care, low social status, poverty, academic underachievement, poor psychological adjustment, lower self-esteem, shame, suicide and discrimination. -Less connection to family, school, religious institutions. -Often targets for physical and sexual violence. -May engage in social delinquency, illegal substance use, and crime. Stigma measurements have been developed for specific stigmatizing characteristic (mental illness or HIV/AIDS). These measures do not capture layers of stigma which are present in individuals with more than one stigmatized characteristic. Previous measures have been created for and used with adults, although stigma is commonly and acutely experienced by adolescents as well. Focus groups of youths age 14- 21 at risk of being stigmatized will be convened to provide feedback on wording and to identify previously undocumented manifestations of stigma. Groups will be selected based on sexual orientation, ethnic minority status, street involvement, a history of sexual exploitation, or visible physical disabilities. Groups will respond to generic and specific questions applying to a wide range of stigmatized characteristics while helping disentangle the layering of multiple sources of stigma. Some individual interviews will also be held to elicit comprehension and reasons for response choices, as a way of better understanding how stigma is perceived. There will be open discussion of the wording, clarity and relevance of the questions and discussions will be audio-taped and transcribed. Why a New Measure? Stigma is usually defined as complex and encompassing several dimensions, yet sociometric measures for stigma to date have been narrow, condition- specific and adult- oriented. Youth may be at a greater risk for negative effects of stigma because of its profound influence over the developmental trajectories and life experiences of adolescents, especially during this time of many social and psychological changes. A reliable and developmentally-appropriate measure of stigma will be used to assess incidence of layered stigma and understand its effects on adolescents. The knowledge gained will ultimately lead to the creation of more appropriate and effective outreach  strategies that may reduce stigma and alter perceptions, as well as positively affect risk behaviours, opportunities, and futures of stigmatized youth. Funding provided by: Many people possess more than one stigmatizing characteristic and can suffer the effects of compounded or “layered” stigma. Layered Stigma Enacted Stigma: the hostile and rejecting behaviours targeted at stigmatized individuals. Perceived Stigma: the awareness of an individual of their own stigmatize characteristic and that they  are rejected as a result. Internalized Stigma: the stigmatized individual’s acceptance of others’ negative judgments.

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