Known by the Children’s Condition: Associative Stigma Among Family Carers of Children with Cerebral Palsy

Abstract

The experience of associative stigma (stigma that persons experience because they are associated with persons who belong to a stigmatized category in society) could have negative impacts on carers’ and children’s health and well-being. This descriptive qualitative study therefore focused on associative stigma among family carers of children with cerebral palsy (CP) in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana. Using the convenience sampling technique, sixty-one family carers were purposively recruited to participate in the study. Focus group discussions (FGDs) and in-depth interviews (IDIs) were conducted to collect data. With the permission of participants, the FGDs and IDIs were audio-recorded and transcribed. Braun and Clarke’s (2006) thematic analysis was employed to analyze the data. The findings indicated that the carers of children with CP were stigmatized and discriminated against by family and non-family members. Evidence showed that myths and beliefs underpinned people’s negative attitudes toward carers included in the study. Moreover, the family carers utilized different strategies, such as avoidance, discounting, reacting, and accepting, to address associative stigma. Given that carers’ experiences of stigma and discrimination are often overlooked, family counseling and education could be provided to help challenge the negative perceptions and beliefs people have about the condition. This would help improve the well-being of carers, particularly mothers of children with cerebral palsy.

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Acknowledgments

The researchers would like to express their appreciation to all family carers who participated in this study and executive members of the support group. All procedures performed in the study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The study was approved by the Ethics Committee for the Humanities (ECH) at the University of Ghana, Legon, Accra, Ghana.

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Correspondence to Mavis Dako-Gyeke.

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The original online version of this article was revised: The original version of this article unfortunately contained a mistake in the author group section. The correct name of the fourth author is “Richard Baffo Kodom.”

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Dako-Gyeke, M., Boateng, D.A., Mills, A.A. et al. Known by the Children’s Condition: Associative Stigma Among Family Carers of Children with Cerebral Palsy. Glob Soc Welf (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40609-021-00203-w

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Keywords

  • Caregivers
  • Disability
  • Discrimination
  • Qualitative research
  • Stigma