Perceived community disability stigma in multicultural, low-income populations: Measure development and validation

Res Dev Disabil. 2021 Aug:115:103997. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2021.103997. Epub 2021 May 29.


Background: Stigma and knowledge about disabilities differ across groups, impacting care. No validated measures of perceived community disability stigma exist for families in multicultural communities, at risk for disparities.

Aims: Develop and validate a brief bilingual (i.e., English/Spanish) perceived disability stigma measure, compare perceived disability and autism stigma, and examine perceived disability stigma by parent sociodemographic characteristics and disability familiarity.

Methods and procedures: Secondary data from 522 parents with children ages 2-5 years were recruited from Oregon WIC Special Supplemental Nutrition Program agencies for a child development and disability survey in 2015. The study sample included items regarding disability familiarity and stigma, among the survey population, which was 50 % Latino. Internal consistency, reliability and structural validity were examined. Secondary data on perceived disability and similar autism stigma items were compared. Nested multivariable linear regression assessed associations of perceived disability stigma with sociodemographic characteristics and disability familiarity.

Outcomes and results: Five perceived disability stigma items had reasonable internal consistency and performed well in the confirmatory factor analysis. Perceived autism stigma was greater than perceived disability stigma. Latino parents reported less perceived disability stigma than white parents. Parents who knew 1+ individual(s) with a disability reported greater perceived disability stigma.

Conclusions and implications: The perceived disability stigma scale demonstrated sound psychometric properties. Results suggest differences in how stigma is perceived across sociodemographic characteristics and disability familiarity.

Keywords: Autism; Disability; Knowledge; Latino; Parents; Stigma.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Disabled Persons*
  • Humans
  • Poverty
  • Psychometrics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Social Stigma*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires