A systematic review of intervention studies that address HIV-related stigmas among US healthcare workers and health systems: Applying a theory-based ontology to link intervention types, techniques, and mechanisms of action to Potential Effectiveness


BACKGROUND: To end the HIV epidemic, we need to better understand how to address HIV-related stigmas in healthcare settings, specifically the common theoretical bases across interventions so that we can generalize about their potential effectiveness. PURPOSE: We describe theory-based components of stigma interventions by identifying their functions/types, techniques, and purported mechanisms of change. METHODS: This systematic review examined studies published by April 2021. We applied a transtheoretical ontology developed by the Human Behaviour Change Project, consisting of 9 intervention types (ITs), 93 behavior change techniques (BCTs), and 26 mechanisms of action (MOAs). We coded the frequency and calculated the potential effectiveness of each IT, BCT, and MOA. We evaluated study quality with a 10-item adapted tool. RESULTS: Among the nine highest quality studies, indicated by the use of an experimental design, the highest potentially effective IT was “Persuasion” (i.e. using communication to induce emotions and/or stimulate action; 66.7%, 4/6 studies). The highest potentially effective BCTs were “Behavioral practice/rehearsal” (i.e. to increase habit and skill) and “Salience of consequences” (i.e. to make consequences of behavior more memorable; each 100%, 3/3 studies). The highest potentially effective MOAs were “Knowledge” (i.e. awareness) and “Beliefs about capabilities” (i.e. self-efficacy; each 67%, 2/3 studies). CONCLUSIONS: By applying a behavior change ontology across studies, we synthesized theory-based findings on stigma interventions. Interventions typically combined more than one IT, BCT, and MOA. Practitioners and researchers can use our findings to better understand and select theory-based components of interventions, including areas for further evaluation, to expedite ending the HIV epidemic.


Kutner BA, Vaughn MP, Giguere R, Rodriguez-Hart C, McKinnon K, Kaighobadi F, Felix B, Akakpo A, Cournos F, Mikaelian M, Knox J, Boccher-Lattimore D, Mack KA, LaForest M, Sandfort TGM




  • Epidemiology and Determinants of Health
    • Determinants of Health
  • Determinants of Health
    • Health services
    • Stigma/discrimination
  • Population(s)
    • General HIV- population


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