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Anti-stigma interventions in low-income and middle-income countries: a systematic review


Background: Stigma exacerbates power imbalances and societal disparities, significantly impacting diverse identities and health conditions, particularly for low and middle-income countries (LMICs). Though crucial for dismantling harmful stereotypes, and enhancing healthcare utilisation, existing research on anti-stigma interventions is limited with its condition-focused approach. We aimed to thoroughly evaluate peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed literature for a comprehensive review of anti-stigma interventions for diverse identities and all health conditions in LMICs.

Methods: This review systematically explored peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed literature, in ten electronic databases up to January 30, 2024, covering all anti-stigma interventions across various stigmatised identities and health conditions in LMICs. Quality assessment for this systematic review was conducted as per Cochrane Collaboration’s suggested inclusions. The review was registered with PROSPERO (Registration: 2017 CRD42017064283).

Findings: Systematic synthesis of the 192 included studies highlights regional imbalances, while providing valuable insights on robustness and reliability of anti-stigma research. Most studies used quasi-experimental design, and most centred on HIV/AIDS or mental health related stigma, with very little work on other issues. Certain high-population LMICs had no/little representation. Interpretation The interventions targeted diverse segments of populations and consequently yielded a multitude of stigma-related outcomes. However, despite the heterogeneity of studies, most reported positive outcomes underscoring the effectiveness of existing interventions to reduce stigma.

Funding This study is supported by the UK Medical Research Council Indigo Partnership (MR/R023697/1) award.

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Journal Article
Majeed T
Hopkin G
Wang K
Nepal S
Votruba N
Gronholm P
Gurung D
Semrau M
Bagade T
Farina N
Musyimi C
Pingani L
Breuer E
Lund C
Thornicroft G
Evans-Lacko S