In this study, the interdisciplinary, multi-institution team apply Intergroup Contact Theory to examine if stigmatizing behaviors and attitudes in health care settings persist in New York City, arguably the most diverse metropolitan in the United States. Specifically, the investigators’ objective were to assess rates of perceived stigma in clinical settings and to examine if this perceived stigma was associated with poorer physical and mental health outcomes.
A team of researchers collaborated on this study, including Dr. Henna Budhwani, Department of Health Care Organization and Policy, at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health.
Over a third of New York City’s 8 million residents are foreign-born, and a significant proportion of New York City’s residents identify as racial and ethnic minorities, thus, making it the optimal environment in which to apply a psychosocial theory that asserts that interpersonal contact between groups that are different from one another builds tolerance and understanding within members of those groups. They found that perceived stigma was associated with poorer health care access, depression, diabetes, and poor overall general health. Hispanic respondents reported the highest rate of perceived stigma among racial and ethnic minority groups.
Prior studies have illustrated that negative health outcomes are common for patients who avoid or delay care; thus, the unfortunate conclusion is that even in a diverse, heterogeneous community, stigma persists and may negatively affect well-being. Therefore, eliminating stigma in clinical settings should be a top priority for health care providers and public health professionals seeking to improve health equity.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on February 28