STIGMATISING ATTITUDES TOWARDS PEERS WITH SICKLE CELL DISEASE AMONG SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS IN NIGERIA
AbstractSickle cell disease (SCD) is a serious genetic blood disorder experienced by many young people in Nigeria, but the attitudes of students to peers with SCD is scarcely studied. We explored the stigmatising attitudes towards SCD among 370 secondary school students in Nigeria. The students completed questionnaires on attitude to SCD based on a modified Bogardus scale. A significant proportion of the students endorsed negative attitudes towards peers with SCD and showed poor knowledge of the condition. For example, only 41% thought most students would invite a peer with SCD to their birthday party; only 43% thought most students would like to study together with a peer with SCD; 30% believed spiritual and traditional healers can cure SCD; 11% believed that SCD is caused by evil spirits; 15% believed it can be caused by bad food; and 9% thought it is infectious. Regression analysis identified as significant predictors of negative attitudes these two factors: (a) having less personal contact with people affected by SCD, and (b) the belief that people with SCD cannot lead a normal life. Interventions to reduce negative attitudes towards victims of SCD among school children in Nigeria should include more exposure to people with SCD and positive information to challenge nihilistic beliefs about the condition.
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