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Health Economics

Introduction to Healthcare and Stigma

Stigma can be reflected upon a well-documented and very well observed global barrier in dissipating and practicing various healthcare behaviors. Apart from impacting upon the behavioral regulations it also effects the constant engagement in patient care, helping in adhering to the treatment plan and protocols set in place and balancing between the task and the duties of the healthcare professional, deemed by them (Ungar, 2016). These stigmas not only hinder the working of the healthcare professionals in their full capacity but also impacts upon the accessibility of the various healthcare facilities and services available for them. These stigma in the healthcare systems give rise to discrimination that ultimately lead to reduction in opportunities for the individuals or group of individuals and also reducing their overall social acceptance. These stigmas also worsen the healthcare outcomes in the population, impeding the functioning of the system, reducing the available resources, increasing the stress and abrupt psychological as well as behavioral responses, ultimately leading to poor health of the individuals (Von, 2018).

Professional Approach

The professionals as well as the governmental organizations involved in this process can help largely in identifying the underlying root causes that might be impeding the process of smooth facilitation of the healthcare facilities. They can also help in evaluating the situation on one-on-one basis which can be beneficial in formulating improved methodology and tactics that can be helpful in narrowing down the stigma (Heley, 2019). In order to bring about a halt in the stigmatization process and also to reduce the impact of the harmful consequences that can be brought about by the same, a clear and schematic structural approach is needed to intervene in the system. This well-structured framework should be able to guide and develop protocols, by key measurement methods based on authentic research, to be brought into practical use (Stangl, 2019). This will also be helpful in providing a pathway for modulating the current policies as well as formulating new policy framework, to reduce the stigma associated with the healthcare system and its practices as a whole.

The intervening in the matter should ideally be practiced before the stigma interrupts in the working of the system. The interventions should thus, be planned aiming at removing the driving forces leading to stigma in the system (Biancarelli, 2019). This can be carried by shifting the norms and policies in accordance with the functioning of the system and thus, helping in marginalizing the stigma all together, before it starts to penetrate the deep roots. The interventions should also be planned keeping a close consideration to a particular community as well as diseased condition so that specific population can also be aimed at. This is very crucial from the point of view of promoting promotional behavior and attitudes in eth affected communities. This is also vital for promoting their overall well-being and safe guarding their best interest. The stigma-reduction interventions can also be deemed as the most effective as they are based on evaluations done on one-on-one basis as per the various socio-ecological levels. These strategies can also be helpful in providing a multi-directional approach, therefore, helping in coping with both internal stigma at the individual’s level and external stigma, that might prevail at the community level (Ashton, 2018). These prevention strategies should however be in sync with the policy and norms in place to reduce the unlawful activities that might be associated with the healthcare practices leading to stigma furthermore.

Role of Healthcare Professionals

The pharmaceutical industry is constantly engaged in various campaigns in reducing the stigma associated with certain disease/ condition. These campaigns are generally heavily funded, in order to cater to the larger needs and considerations of the patient as well as healthcare professionals. However, there is no transparent as well as clear cut management of the policies conducted by them. These campaigns should be launched on the grass root levels, targeting specific communities and thus, addressing to their specific issues and concerns (Clair, 2016). They can also help in establishing a diagnosis as more socially acceptable so that the same can be observed by the healthcare professionals as same. They can also help in formulating various preventive as well as curative strategies in order to deal with the associated reality of the situation. With the help of marketing campaigns are more positive imagery of various drugs as well as diseased conditions can be published to help spread awareness regarding the same. They can also help in presenting the advertisements based on every day realistic situation of the individuals rather than portraying an imaginary one. They can also directly as well as indirectly take part in educational activities that can be helpful in spreading awareness on certain disease conditions and thus, helping in clearing myths associated with the same. This can largely benefit and improve patients’ lives as well.

Healthcare providers can also be helpful in the process by advocating the rights of the patients. They can be interactive enough to take the concerns and grudges to the higher authorities in order to be heard. The compliance with the healthcare policies in place should be practised at all times. Observant and unbiased facilities can be provided by the healthcare professionals to ensure the marginalisation of the stigma associated with the healthcare services and common clinical practises as well (Madden, 2019). They can also help by maintaining a fair exchange of information through various communication channel in order to maintain the authenticity of the information provided and thus, reducing any change for confusion to precipitate. The common cultural practises as well as the barriers should also be taken into due consideration while ensuring smooth facilitation of the healthcare solutions to the patients.

Approaches and Strategies to Reduce Stigma

The health stigma and discrimination framework should be aimed at providing the innovative as well as alternative methods that can be helpful in identifying these stigmas and responding to them in accordance with the same. This can be inclusive of conducting researches in the areas of concerns and developing intervention strategies for the identified problems. This is also crucial from the point of view of constant monitoring as well amending health-care policies if and when required. This can be deemed as a very efficient as well as effective response, addressing to a significant source of poor health outcomes, both nationally as well as globally. Australian government has been working in marginalizing this health-care related stigma with many interventions program. Some of the few intervention strategies are mainly inclusive of education programs, literacy campaigns, individual contacting, promoting peer-services, advocating for the rights of the patient population and lastly by making use of the information collected from all of the strategies in formulating new policies.

Education on Healthcare and Stigma

Educating the patient about the diseased conditions as well about the various healthcare facilities, helps in providing the factual information to them. It also provides the educators with an opportunity to evaluate the prevailing negative attitudes and belief amongst the patient as well as healthcare professionals. These strategies also helpful in replacing the myths and disbeliefs with factual information and thus, helping largely in reducing the prevailing stereotype in the healthcare system (Gronholm, 2017). These educational programs have been included as an integral part of the public healthcare system, being practiced from state to the national level. They have also been helpful in integrating the healthcare professionals as well the patient population on a common platform, addressing to their individual as well as collective concerns through efficient communication channels. These educational programs have also been using social media platform to spread the awareness amongst the population. This has been crucial in reaching out to all age groups and getting to their specific concerns as well. These social media platforms have also helped in highlighting the common areas of concerns and providing a comparison in to different believes and perspective towards healthcare and stigma attached to it.

Literacy Campaigns

These are also a type of educational strategy developed by the government, addressing to a particular group of population on target basis. These campaigns have been included at primary levels such as part of school health education program and community health programs. This is being helpful in targeting a specific group of population and also their specific needs. These literacy programs in place have been efficient enough in improving the knowledge, attitude and help-seeking behaviour in communities where the stigma is at large. There is also a lack of accessibility to the healthcare facilities and the prevailing poor educational system in place, poses a hinderance in marginalizing the healthcare associated stigma. However, the inculcation of these literacy programs has been helpful in upscaling the research as well as educational knowledge amongst the population (Henderson, 2017). These educational campaigns have been helpful for healthcare professionals in examining the situation in a more professional and organized manner. It has also been helpful in reducing the associated prejudice attached, while decision making process to promote healthcare benefit amongst the patient population. The on-spot training during these campaigns have also been beneficial in dealing with the crisis situations with much calm and composure and in a more adequate and well-prepared manner.

Contact Programs

These programs have been based on helping individuals with diseased conditions with the ones having similar conditions as them. These contact programs have been helpful in overcoming the prevailing interpersonal divide and thus, have been helpful in facilitating a positive interaction between the patient population. These strategies have also been helpful for the healthcare professionals in examining the stigma attached with these clinical scenarios, faced by the patient population. This has been helpful for both the patients and the healthcare professionals in promoting a sense of empowerment and self-actualization amongst the same. The problems are also been easily discussed at a common platform of information exchange between the patient’s population and healthcare professionals (Cerully, 2018). These frequent contact-based approach tagged along with educational strategies have been resourceful in providing the current picture of stigma associated with healthcare services and the structure supporting the same. These interventions have been more efficient in comparison to the educational strategies imparted alone. While these combined approaches have an added advantage, they are not that frequently implemented.

Protest and Advocacy

These programs have been instated in place to help in maintaining the basic healthcare rights of the patients, all the while helping the healthcare professionals to be a part of the process. There is a rising need to advocate for the healthcare rights of the individuals as many of them unaware of their mere existence. These strategies in place have helped the individuals in gaining good access and knowledge about their rights and the same have been helpful in marginalizing the stigma as well. This has also been beneficial in raising awareness amongst the individuals, which was lacking due to absence of autonomy. The inclusion of the healthcare policies along with proper and apt advocacy has helped in reducing the inaccessibility of the resources to all (Ashton, 2018). This has also helped in improving healthcare outcomes largely by ensuring lawful clinical practices and smooth facilitation of the various healthcare services. The strategies implanted in place have been resourceful in providing the detailed information about the grass root issues to the highest stakeholders, having a direct say in the matter. This has been very crucial in speeding the process of applying integrated approach by the means of equal participation of the patient population as well as healthcare professionals.

Policy Changes

The government has also tried to marginalize the stigma by the means of multidisciplinary approach. This has been done by the means of evaluating the policies in place and examining their fundamental structure to acknowledge for the loop holes and act accordingly. These policies are been analysed with the constant help of health advocates that have been helpful in keenly examining the policy structure. Some of the policies in place have also been helpful in providing a foundational ground for developing and implementing new and improved strategies in place (Stangl, 2019). This has been observed to marginalize not only the associated stigma but also reducing the social and political inequality in the healthcare system. This has been helpful in improving the overall quality of life and reducing the healthcare burden largely.

Recommendations on Healthcare and Stigma

The current ongoing situation with the corona virus is something that no nation was well prepared for. However, as the human race has dealt with it’s fair share of pandemics in past, the same can be used for inferences to be applied for future preparedness. The clinical data obtained from the analysis of previous incidences of pandemics can be used to evaluate for the short comings as to how things were tackled in older times. As the clinical condition is not well-defined by the various healthcare professionals, this is liable to bring about a constant gap in gaining knowledge about the clinical condition. In order to deal with the current crisis, the government can work in close coordination with healthcare professionals to have a deeper insight about the diseased condition. Times of crisis like these calls for stringent action taking and prompt responses to be carried out in an adequate manner. In such situations the individuals are also bound to be fed with fake information regarding the disease. The policies can be formulated to prevent the spread of misleading information to the common masses and thus, helping in reducing the additional stress associated with the current crisis. The healthcare professionals can also be helpful in spreading awareness at the community level by the means of social media networking channels.

The people can be addressed for their emotional, mental as well as physical concerns by being in constant touch with them through these communication exchange portals. The population sect can also be divided as per zones to streamline the evaluation process. This will be helpful in not only evaluating the situation in a segregated manner but will also be beneficial in allocating the required resources in accordance with the same. The resourceful management will surface as a useful method aiming at providing individuals with equal healthcare facilities as anticipated by them. This will also be helpful in administering equality of various healthcare solutions even in the times of crisis. The policies should also be aimed at promoting constant educational information to the common masses as it will be helpful in keeping them updated regarding the latest advancements. This will help in reducing the stress as well as reduce any change of spread of myths and disbeliefs amongst the common population. The educational strategies can also be used to impart preventive measures within the population so that they can be better prepared for the situation. These educational strategies can also be helpful for promoting self-management techniques amongst the individuals.

References for Healthcare and Stigma

Ashton, L. J., Gordon, S. E., & Reeves, R. A. (2018). Key ingredients—target groups, methods and messages, and evaluation—of local-level, public interventions to counter stigma and discrimination: a lived experience informed selective narrative literature review. Community Mental Health Journal54(3), 312-333.

Ashton, L. J., Gordon, S. E., & Reeves, R. A. (2018). Key ingredients—target groups, methods and messages, and evaluation—of local-level, public interventions to counter stigma and discrimination: a lived experience informed selective narrative literature review. Community Mental Health Journal54(3), 312-333.

Biancarelli, D. L., Biello, K. B., Childs, E., Drainoni, M., Salhaney, P., Edeza, A., ... & Bazzi, A. R. (2019). Strategies used by people who inject drugs to avoid stigma in healthcare settings. Drug and Alcohol Dependence198, 80-86.

Cerully, J. L., Collins, R. L., Wong, E., Seelam, R., & Yu, J. (2018). Differential response to contact-based stigma reduction programs: perceived quality and personal experience matter. Psychiatry Research259, 302-309.

Clair, M., Daniel, C., & Lamont, M. (2016). Destigmatization and health: Cultural constructions and the long-term reduction of stigma. Social Science & Medicine165, 223-232.

Gronholm, P. C., Henderson, C., Deb, T., & Thornicroft, G. (2017). Interventions to reduce discrimination and stigma: the state of the art. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology52(3), 249-258.

Heley, K., Kennedy-Hendricks, A., Niederdeppe, J., & Barry, C. L. (2019). Reducing Health-Related Stigma Through Narrative Messages. Health Communication, 1-12.

Henderson, C., Robinson, E., Evans-Lacko, S., & Thornicroft, G. (2017). Relationships between anti-stigma programme awareness, disclosure comfort and intended help-seeking regarding a mental health problem. The British Journal of Psychiatry211(5), 316-322.

Madden, E. F. (2019). Intervention stigma: How medication-assisted treatment marginalizes patients and providers. Social Science & Medicine232, 324-331.

Stangl, A. L., Earnshaw, V. A., Logie, C. H., van Brakel, W., Simbayi, L. C., Barré, I., & Dovidio, J. F. (2019). The Health Stigma and Discrimination Framework: a global, crosscutting framework to inform research, intervention development, and policy on health-related stigmas. BMC Medicine17(1), 31.

Stangl, A. L., Earnshaw, V. A., Logie, C. H., van Brakel, W., Simbayi, L. C., Barré, I., & Dovidio, J. F. (2019). The Health Stigma and Discrimination Framework: a global, crosscutting framework to inform research, intervention development, and policy on health-related stigmas. BMC Medicine17(1), 31.

Ungar, T., Knaak, S., & Szeto, A. C. (2016). Theoretical and practical considerations for combating mental illness stigma in health care. Community Mental Health Journal52(3), 262-271.

Von Hippel, C., Brener, L., & Horwitz, R. (2018). Implicit and explicit internalized stigma: Relationship with risky behaviors, psychosocial functioning and healthcare access among people who inject drugs. Addictive Behaviors76, 305-311.

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