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Original Papers

The experience of stigma by service personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic in Sri Lanka

Authors:

E. . Wickramasinghe ,

Ministry of Health, LK
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P. de Zoysa,

University of Colombo, LK
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Faculty of Medicine
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A. Alagiyawanna,

Ministry of Health, LK
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K. Karunathilake,

University of Kelaniya, LK
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Faculty of Social Sciences
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Y. Ellawala,

Ministry of Health, LK
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I. Samaratunga,

University of Colombo, LK
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Faculty of Social Sciences
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U. Amarasinghe,

Ministry of Health, LK
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N. Fernando,

Ministry of Health, LK
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S. Karunarathne,

Ministry of Health, LK
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L. Wijesekara,

Ministry of Health, LK
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K. Weerasinghe,

Ministry of Health, LK
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Z. Mohideen,

Ministry of Health, LK
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S. Ala,

Ministry of Health, LK
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R. Ratnayake,

Ministry of Health, LK
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P. Karunapema

Ministry of Health, LK
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Abstract

Introduction

Stigma and discriminatory behaviours are common during pandemics. Stigma if not mitigated could result in varied negative psychological consequences in those who it is directed towards, as well as his/her associates.

 

Objectives

The objective of this study was to assess the dynamics of stigma experienced by ten different categories of people, the places and persons who expressed stigmatising attitudes and behaviours, adherence to COVID-19 related health instructions by the general public, and the aspects of the pandemic that had the most psychological impact in the above-indicated ten categories of people.

 

Methodology

We conducted a secondary analysis of already available data collected by the Directorate of Mental Health and Health Promotion Bureau of the Ministry of Health to formulate a communication campaign to combat stigma and discrimination during the COVID- 19 pandemic.

 

Results

Of the 4022 participants, a majority (53.7%) were females, Sinhalese (86.2%) and 17.3% were in the 25-29 year age category. Personnel working in health, security and other essential services and their family members experienced stigma and discrimination from the wider society, neighbours or media. Participants quarantined either at quarantine centres or in their homes, and their family members, also experienced stigma and discrimination. A majority of the general public reported avoiding places where health, security and essential service personnel gathered. Further, a majority of participants reported adhering to the COVID-19 related health instructions. The aspect of the pandemic that had the most psychological impact was the fear of contracting the virus.

 

Conclusions

Results indicated stigma and discrimination towards certain categories of people during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is essential that authorities take action to mitigate such instances, for instance by formulating media guidelines on reporting the pandemic – an action that was implemented subsequent to these study results.
How to Cite: Wickramasinghe, E., de Zoysa, P., Alagiyawanna, A., Karunathilake, K., Ellawala, Y., Samaratunga, I., Amarasinghe, U., Fernando, N., Karunarathne, S., Wijesekara, L., Weerasinghe, K., Mohideen, Z., Ala, S., Ratnayake, R. and Karunapema, P., 2021. The experience of stigma by service personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka Journal of Psychiatry, 12(2), pp.15–21. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/sljpsyc.v12i2.8289
Published on 31 Dec 2021.
Peer Reviewed

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