Intervening within and across levels: a multilevel approach to stigma and public health

Soc Sci Med. 2014 Feb;103:101-109. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2013.09.023. Epub 2013 Oct 3.


This article uses a multilevel approach to review the literature on interventions with promise to reduce social stigma and its consequences for population health. Three levels of an ecological system are discussed. The intrapersonal level describes interventions directed at individuals, to either enhance coping strategies of people who belong to stigmatized groups or change attitudes and behaviors of the non-stigmatized. The interpersonal level describes interventions that target dyadic or small group interactions. The structural level describes interventions directed at the social-political environment, such as laws and policies. These intervention levels are related and they reciprocally affect one another. In this article we review the literature within each level. We suggest that interventions at any level have the potential to affect other levels of an ecological system through a process of mutually reinforcing reciprocal processes. We discuss research priorities, in particular longitudinal research that incorporates multiple outcomes across a system.

Keywords: Disparities; Health; Intervention; Stigma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Attitude
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Multilevel Analysis
  • Public Health / methods*
  • Social Stigma*