Stigma in the context of hepatitis C: concept analysis

Authors


G. Butt: e-mail: gail.butt@bccdc.ca

Abstract

Title. Stigma in the context of hepatitis C: concept analysis.

Aim.  This paper is a report of a concept analysis of stigma in the context of hepatitis C.

Background.  Stigma is a complex and powerful social phenomenon that influences the course of illness and marginalizes populations. Knowledge of hepatitis C stigma is central to assisting people with hepatitis C self-manage their illness and reduce the disease burden.

Data sources.  Thirty studies from 1995 to 2007 located in health and social sciences databases constituted the data for an evolutionary concept analysis and ecological theory guide the review.

Findings.  Stigma is a subjective and variable, perceived and/or experienced phenomenon, most frequently but not exclusively viewed as negative, that has interrelated intrapersonal, interpersonal and structural or institutional dimensions. The antecedents of hepatitis C stigma are help-seeking situations most frequently occurring in healthcare settings. Attributes include the association of hepatitis C with illicit drug use, fear of transmission of a contagious and life-threatening infection, acceptable level of risk, and the power to impose restrictions on the part of healthcare practitioners, family and friendship networks and society. Stigma consequences are mainly, but not exclusively, negative.

Conclusion.  A central and distinctive feature of hepatitis C stigma in the Western world is its association with illicit drug use. Further research is required to understand the complexities associated with the sociocultural, situational and structural features that influence the stigma experience as well as the trajectory of the disease to understand the concept better and inform nursing practice.

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