UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Stigma, Perceived Discrimination, and Mental Health during China’s COVID-19 Outbreak : A Mixed-Methods Investigation Fan, Wen; Qian, Yue; Jin, Yongai


Research on stigma and discrimination during COVID-19 has focused on racism and xenophobia in Western countries. In comparison, little research has considered stigma processes, discrimination, and their public health implications in non-Western contexts. This study draws on quantitative survey data (N = 7,942) and qualitative interview data (N = 50) to understand the emergence, experiences, and mental health implications of stigma and discrimination during China’s COVID-19 outbreak. Given China’s history of regionalism, we theorize and use a survey experiment to empirically assess region-based stigma: People who lived in Hubei (the hardest hit province) during the outbreak and those who were socially associated with Hubei were stigmatized. Furthermore, the COVID-19 outbreak created stigma around people labeled as patients by the state. These stigmatized groups reported greater perceived discrimination, which—as a stressor—led to psychological distress. Our interview data illuminated how the stigmatized groups perceived, experienced, and coped with discrimination and stigma.

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Attribution 4.0 International