Introduction: Within healthcare settings, HIV-related stigma is a recognized barrier to access of HIV prevention and treatment services and yet, few efforts have been made to scale-up stigma reduction programs in service delivery. This is in part due to the lack of a brief, simple, standardized tool for measuring stigma among all levels of health facility staff that works across diverse HIV prevalence, language and healthcare settings. In response, an international consortium led by the Health Policy Project, has developed and field tested a stigma measurement tool for use with health facility staff.
Methods: Experts participated in a content-development workshop to review an item pool of existing measures, identify gaps and prioritize questions. The resulting questionnaire was field tested in six diverse sites (China, Dominica, Egypt, Kenya, Puerto Rico and St. Christopher & Nevis). Respondents included clinical and non-clinical staff. Questionnaires were self- or interviewer-administered. Analysis of item performance across sites examined both psychometric properties and contextual issues.
Results: The key outcome of the process was a substantially reduced questionnaire. Eighteen core questions measure three programmatically actionable drivers of stigma within health facilities (worry about HIV transmission, attitudes towards people living with HIV (PLHIV), and health facility environment, including policies), and enacted stigma. The questionnaire also includes one short scale for attitudes towards PLHIV (5-item scale, α=0.78).
Conclusions: Stigma-reduction programmes in healthcare facilities are urgently needed to improve the quality of care provided, uphold the human right to healthcare, increase access to health services, and maximize investments in HIV prevention and treatment. This brief, standardized tool will facilitate inclusion of stigma measurement in research studies and in routine facility data collection, allowing for the monitoring of stigma within healthcare facilities and evaluation of stigma-reduction programmes. There is potential for wide use of the tool either as a stand-alone survey or integrated within other studies of health facility staff.
Keywords: AIDS; HIV; HIV stigma; discrimination; evaluation; health facilities; measurement; monitoring; stigma; stigma-reduction programmes.