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Bhatnagar S, Kumar S, Rathore P, Sarma R, Malhotra RK, Choudhary N, Thankachan A, Haokip N, Singh S, Pandit A, Vig S, Ratre BK, Mohan A, Lorenz K, Guleria R. Surviving COVID-19 is Half the Battle; Living Life with Perceived Stigma is Other Half: A Cross-Sectional Study. Indian journal of psychological medicine. 2021 Sep 1; 43(5):428-435.
BACKGROUND: Year 2020 started with global health crisis known as COVID-19. In lack of established tools and management protocols, COVID-19 had become breeding ground for fear and confusion, leading to stigma toward affected individuals. METHOD: A cross-sectional study was conducted to estimate prevalence of stigma in discharged COVID-19 patients from a COVID hospital in India. Participants were approached telephonically using a semistructured questionnaire to record their experiences. Questions were asked regarding stigma at six major domains of daily life. Among total 1,673 discharged participants, 600 were conveniently selected and out of them 311 responded on telephonic interviews. RESULT: We found that 182 (58.52%) participants (95% CI: 53.04-64.00) have self-perceived stigma, 163 (52.41%) participants (95% CI: 46.86-57.96) experienced quarantine-related stigma, 222 (71.38%) participants (95% CI: 66.36-76.40) experienced neighborhood stigma, 214 (68.81%) participants (95% CI: 63.66-73.95) experienced stigma while going out in marketplaces, 180 (57.88%) participants (95% CI: 52.39-63.37) experienced stigma at their work place, and 207 (66.56%) participants (95% CI: 61.31-71.80) reported stigma experienced by their family members. With a total of 84.5% (95% CI: 80.06-88.39) participants experiencing stigma at some domain and about 42.8% of participants facing stigma at all six domains. The commonest noted cause of stigma was fear of getting infected, reported by 184 (59.2%) participants. CONCLUSION: This study shows high prevalence of stigma in COVID-19 patients suffering in their common domains of daily lives.