Overcoming Stigma Against Substance Use Disorders at Healthcare Facilities Across India: A Proposed Intervention

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2021

Authors

Kumar, Neha

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Abstract

Stigma against alcohol and substance use is ingrained in societies all over the world, manifesting itself through acts of discrimination and prejudice in daily life. This attitude is also present in healthcare facilities, where health professionals often contribute to such stigma and commonly envision drug users as dangerous or irresponsible by nature. This can make patients hesitant to seek treatment, which can worsen health outcomes. Despite acceptance that stigma is a major barrier to engaging in treatment, there have been few interventions to target stigma against substance use disorders (SUDs) in developing nations. This warrants the implementation of an intervention that targets stigma against SUDs in healthcare facilities across India. Through a systematic literature search, I identify previous interventions aimed at reducing stigma in healthcare facilities in the United States and India. After a thorough analysis, I compare the major themes, methods and results of these studies. Overall, 33 studies meet inclusion criteria and many common themes and stigma-reduction approaches are observed. Taking into account the strengths and weaknesses of each intervention, this thesis proposes a hybrid intervention with both in-person and online components, to be implemented at healthcare facilities across India. These modules aim to increase knowledge and contact, teach strategies to treat the stigmatized group and increase awareness about structural stigma to eradicate the root causes of stigma. Nationwide adaptation of this intervention could provide a more welcoming healthcare environment for those with SUDs, and thereby improve health outcomes.

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