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Science of Stigma Reduction

The Science of Stigma Reduction, a project coordinated by Fogarty's Center for Global Health Studies (CGHS), engages global health researchers and other NIH Institutes, Centers and Offices to address health-related stigma across conditions, populations and settings. 


Silhouette of person walking through vertical blinds toward a bright light.Courtesy of NIH Medical Arts / Thinkstock

Stigma is a major cause of discrimination in health care settings across the globe. Stigmatized individuals can be excluded from effective or quality treatment and care, and may be subject to human rights abuses, which in turn can lead to risky health care seeking behavior. Both public stigma and self-stigma can play substantial roles in how health services are sought, accessed and delivered for many diseases and conditions. Stigmatizing attitudes often stem from fear due to a lack of knowledge about a particular disease or illness - a problem that can be exacerbated in LMICs.

Research Agenda Setting

Large group of workshop attendees pose for a photo.Photo courtesy of NIHResearchers, policymakers and program implementers gathered at NIH for The Science of Stigma Reduction.

In June 2017, CGHS hosted the workshop The Science of Stigma Reduction: New Directions for Research to Improve Health at NIH. The 3-day event convened U.S. and LMIC researchers to discuss common methods and challenges in stigma-reduction research, share lessons learned, and collectively identify gaps in the evidence base to develop a cross-cutting research agenda for health-related stigma that transcends disease, population and geographic siloes. 


 Collection on: Stigma Research and Global Health. The Collection outlines novel, scientific cross-cutting approaches in health-related stigma reduction research and sets forth key research priorities.

The project further aims to inform NIH investments. It informed a Fogarty program, Reducing Stigma to Improve HIV/AIDS Prevention, Treatment and Care in LMICs, as well as other grant programs across NIH, such as NIMH's Promoting Reductions in Intersectional StigMa (PRISM) to Improve the HIV Prevention Continuum grant program and NCI's Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Administrative Supplement Opportunity to Support Global Cancer Stigma Research

Research Capacity Building

Fogarty's CGHS hosted a two-week virtual training for 51 U.S. and LMIC early- to mid-career investigators in June 2021 to build research capacity for global health-related stigma research. Through a combination of didactic, panel discussion and small group sessions run by stigma research experts, the Training Institute provided trainees with the knowledge and resources to understand how to apply novel and cross-cutting stigma methodologies and framework to research, identify and build partnerships with diverse stakeholders to extend the research of work, and conduct appropriate, high-quality stigma research.

Stigma and Discrimination Research Toolkit

The National Institute of Mental Health, in partnership with Fogarty, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the NIH Stigma Scientific Interest Group, developed a Stigma and Discrimination Research toolkit. This toolkit is a collection of evidence and resources related to stigma and discrimination research. The toolkit contains information about theories, models, frameworks, measures, methods, and interventions that can be applied across conditions and populations to help reduce the impact of stigma and discrimination. There are additional resources for those looking to address stigma and discrimination issues related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This toolkit may also be helpful for researchers, government officials looking to incorporate research into policy, community agencies, and various other stakeholders across disciplines and sectors.


In 2001, Fogarty launched the Stigma and Global Health Research program with partners across NIH and the U.S. government, and convened a corresponding international conference. Fogarty's Global Brain Disorders Research program currently encourages stigma-related research. Other Institutes and Centers across NIH have issued funding opportunity announcements on assessing the role of and reducing stigma.


The following entities at NIH are partners on the project:

  • National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
  • NIH Office of the Director
    • NIH Sexual and Gender Minority Research Office (SGMRO)
    • NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR)
  • National Cancer Institute (NCI)
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
  • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
  • National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)


Nalini Anand, J.D.
Director, Center for Global Health Studies
Director, Fogarty Division of International Science Policy, Planning and Evaluation
Email: nalini.anand@nih.gov

Updated October 2021