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Psychiatr Serv. 2012 Oct;63(10):974-81.

Empirical Studies of Self-Stigma Reduction Strategies: A Critical Review of the Literature.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, Building 58 (152/NLR), 2200 Fort Roots Dr., Little Rock, AR 72114, USA.



The purpose of this article was to comprehensively review published literature about strategies to reduce self-stigma among people with mental illness. Recommendations and implications for research also are discussed.


The electronic databases of Ovid, PubMed, and PsycINFO were searched for peer-reviewed articles published between January 2000 and August 2011 by using the key words “self-stigma,” “internalized stigma,” “perceived stigma,” and “stigma intervention.” The search was further narrowed to studies that described a detailed intervention and that used self-stigma as a primary or secondary outcome, tested the intervention among individuals with a psychiatric illness, and analyzed data quantitatively with acceptable statistical tools.


Fourteen articles met inclusion criteria, and eight reported significant improvement in self-stigma outcomes. Participants predominantly had schizophrenia and related disorders or depression. Six self-stigma reduction strategies were identified. Psychoeducation was the most frequently tested intervention. Self-stigma definitions, measurements, and conceptual frameworks varied considerably across these studies. Several studies lacked a theoretical framework for their intervention. Six different scales were used to measure self-stigma.


Two prominent approaches for self-stigma reduction emerged from our review: one, interventions that attempt to alter the stigmatizing beliefs and attitudes of the individual; and two, interventions that enhance skills for coping with self-stigma through improvements in self-esteem, empowerment, and help-seeking behavior. The second approach seems to have gained traction among stigma experts. Targeting high-risk groups to preempt self-stigma appears to be a promising area for future research.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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