A Sightsavers study into disability-related stigma and discrimination has shown that there are significant gaps in research into the subject.
The study looked at interventions that have been used to tackle stigma, and identified gaps in the evidence base. Researchers are now calling for more effort to be put into filling these gaps.
The systematic literature review identified 82 studies reporting disability-related stigma and discrimination from sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. It then assessed them for methodological quality – a measure of whether the studies were likely to provide reliable results.
The review found that the studies were unevenly spread across different countries and types of impairment. The majority of studies that were assessed for quality were also deemed to be of low methodological quality.
Emma Jolley, global technical lead for health and disability research at Sightsavers, said: “Our review notes the lack of good quality evidence about interventions and their impact on the lives of people with disabilities, particularly those with physical and sensory impairments, and those living in sub-Saharan Africa. This means that when it comes to addressing stigma and discrimination, we still don’t have the tools we need.”
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As well as exploring the forms stigma can take, the review identified factors that can drive it, and the personal characteristics that can work together to create different outcomes for people. Researchers looked at the interventions that have been used to tackle stigma and discrimination, and the evidence about how effective they were. They also examined the tools that have been used to measure change.
The findings have led to a number of recommendations for organisations planning research, and for programmes that aim to reduce disability stigma and discrimination. These include:
Emma Jolley added: “This is a good example of Sightsavers’ evidence-led approach. As an organisation, we rely on a solid understanding of the evidence base to inform how we work.
“This review tells us that we need to focus on generating and sharing robust evidence in a transparent way. It also highlights the need for researchers and implementing organisations to develop common methodologies, and for funding agencies to support the work to tackle disability-related stigma and discrimination.”