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Stigmatization associated with SARS-CoV-2 in the occupational setting: Summary of the state of knowledge and interview study

Project number: F 2516 Institution: Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA), Institute and Policlinic of Occupational and Social Medicine - Technische Universität Dresden, Hochschule für Gesundheit Bochum Status: Completed Project


The aim of the project was to generate findings on the stigmatization of employees due to SARS-CoV-2 and to sensitize company stakeholders and employees to this issue.

The research project included a systematic review to investigate existing scientific findings on stigmatization due to Sars-CoV-2 infections as well as an interview study with nurses and medical staff to analyse current experience of work-related stigma and its impact in the context of the SARS CoV-2 pandemic.

In the systematic review, it was shown that the work-related stigmatization of occupational groups with or without suspected contact to COVID-19 is a relevant problem and can lead to health problems. For example, meta-analyses found that work-related stigmatization from COVID-19 exposure significantly increases the risk for depression and anxiety.

In the interview study, a total of 18 professional nurses and physicians participated. They reported stigmatization by friends, family members, managers, colleagues, patients and their relatives, strangers, and public media. Some respondents reported
self-stigmatization. A common reason for stigmatization in the private context was fear of infection. In the professional context, absence due to illness was also mentioned as one of the causes of stigmatization. Respondents reported distancing and avoidance of contact, as well as accusations with which they were confronted. As a result, they suffered from negative feelings and, in some cases, psychosomatic complaints. Some of the interviewees were offered help in the private and professional context in the form of conversations and encouragement.

The project's findings underscore the need to implement strategies to prevent and address workplace stigma in order to promote worker's health.


Unit 3.5 "Evidence-based Occupational Health, Workplace Health Management"

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