Stigma reduction interventions for children and adolescents in low- and middle-income countries: Systematic review of intervention strategies

February 6, 2020
Authors: Kim Hartog, et al
Organization: Social Science & Medicine

This review synthesized and compared stigma reduction interventions across stigmatized groups in low and middle-income countries (LMIC), specifically highlighting stigma reduction interventions that targeted children and adolescents.

Within 61 unique publications describing 79 interventions, utilizing 14 unique stigma reduction strategies, 14 papers discussed 21 interventions and 10 unique strategies involving children. Most studies targeted HIV/AIDS (50% for children, 38% for adults) or mental illness (14% vs 34%) stigma. Community education (47%), individual empowerment (15%) and social contact (12%) were most employed in child-focused interventions.  Most interventions were implemented at one socio-ecological level; child-focused interventions mostly employed community-level strategies (88%). Intervention duration was mostly short; between half a day and a week. Printed or movie-based material was key to deliver child-focused interventions (37%), while professionals most commonly implemented adult-focused interventions (53%). Ten unique, child-focused strategies were all evaluated positively, using a diverse set of scales.

The study concludes that children remain an under-addressed target group in stigma reduction interventions while their specific situation merits more attention. Positive outcomes were reported on all child-focused interventions and promising interventions were identified, with school-based, education-based strategies as the most employed for children and adolescents.