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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UAB Investigators Examine Stigma as Barrier for Participation in WIC

In a recent study, Dr. Haichang Xin, research associate in the department of health care organization and policy at the University of Alabama at Birmingham — in collaboration with Drs. Larry Powell and Jonathan Howard Amsbary, professors in UAB’s department of communication studies — examined whether stigma plays a role in discouraging participation in the federal Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) program. The researchers noted, “Despite the relative success of the WIC program, participation among many qualified individuals is still low. The problem is particularly acute among middle-income women who qualify for the program.”

[Photo: Dr. Haichang Xin]

After data from focus groups — comprised of eligible participants in five Alabama cities — was evaluated, study results show that stigma proves to be a significant deterrent to participation in WIC. The team concluded that “[p]otential participants sometimes handle this stigma through direct rejection of participation or through indirect rationalizations for not participating.”

“Stigma as a Communication Barrier for Participation in the Federal Government’s Women, Infants, and Children Program” was published online in November in Qualitative Research Reports in Communication.

Journal article: