Stigma, Communication, and Health

Authored by: Xun Zhu , Rachel A. Smith

The Routledge Handbook of Health Communication

Print publication date:  September  2021
Online publication date:  September  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367488956
eBook ISBN: 9781003043379
Adobe ISBN:


 Download Chapter



Stigma is one of the most significant—and least understood—barriers to health promotion and disease prevention around the globe. Communication and stigma are dynamically connected in many ways and across multiple levels of social life. This chapter reviews the fundamental processes by which stigma, communication, and health are inextricably and consequentially intertwined. We start with a brief discussion on the toll that stigma takes on people’s health, relational well-being, and social equality, and we introduce a glossary of conceptual terms in the stigma landscape. Then we review theoretical advancements and empirical evidence associated with (a) creating, (b) enacting, (c) coping, and (d) eliminating health-related stigmas. The extant scholarship reveals the message features and underlying psychological mechanisms that create (social) stigmas, how many communication tactics are used to enact and resist stigmatization, and how difficult it is to cope with stigma-related shame and to eliminate stigmas once they have diffused. We conclude the chapter by highlighting directions for future research.

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.