A Systematic Review of Dementia-related Stigma Research: Can We Move the Stigma Dial?

Elsevier, The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, Volume 26, Issue 3, March 2018, Pages 316-331
Authors: 
Jimmy N. Avari, Barnett S. Meyers

Stigma negatively affects individuals with cognitive impairment and dementia. This literature review examined the past decade (January 2004 to December 2015) of world-wide research on dementia-related stigma. Using standard systematic review methodology, original research reports were identified and assessed for inclusion based on defined criteria. Initial database searches yielded 516 articles. After removing duplicates and articles that did not fit inclusion criteria (419), 97 articles were reviewed, yielding a final total of 51 publications, mainly originating in the United States and Europe. Studies were assessed for date, geographic region, sample description, methodology, and key findings. Reports were evaluated on 1) how stigmatizing attitudes may present in various subgroups, including in racial or ethnic minorities; 2) stigma assessment tools; and 3) prospective or experimental approaches to assess or manage stigma. Stigma impedes help-seeking and treatment, and occurs broadly and world wide. Stigmatizing attitudes appear worse among those with limited disease knowledge, those with little contact with people with dementia, in men, in younger individuals, and in the context of ethnicity and culture. In some cases, healthcare providers may have stigmatizing attitudes. In research studies, there does not appear to be consensus on how to best evaluate stigma, and there are few evidence-based stigma reduction approaches. Given the projected increase in persons with dementia globally, there is a critical need for research that better identifies and measures stigma and tests new approaches that can reduce stigmatizing attitudes.