Psychometric properties of stigma and discrimination measurement tools for persons living with HIV: A systematic review using the COSMIN methodology


BACKGROUND: The development of antiretroviral therapy broadly extends the life expectancy of persons living with HIV (PLHIV). However, stigma and discrimination are still great threat to these individuals and the world’s public health care system. Accurate and reproducible measures are prerequisites for robust results. Therefore, it is essential to choose an acceptable measure with satisfactory psychometric properties to assess stigma and discrimination. There has been no systematic review of different stigma and discrimination tools in the field of HIV care. Researchers and clinical practitioners do not have a solid reference for selecting stigma and discrimination measurement tools. METHODS: We systematically searched English and Chinese databases, including PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, Web of Science, PsycINFO, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, The Cochrane Library, CNKI, and Wanfang, to obtain literature about stigma and discrimination measurement tools that have been developed and applied in the field of HIV. The search period was from 1st January, 1996 to 22nd November 2021. The COnsensus-based Standards for the selection of health Measurement INstruments (COSMIN) guideline (2018 version) was applied to assess the risk of bias for each involved study and summarize the psychometric properties of each tool. The modified version of the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and, Evaluation (GRADE) method was used to grade the evidence and develop recommendations. RESULTS: We included 45 studies and 19 PROMs for HIV/AIDS-related stigma and discrimination among PLHIV. All studies had sufficient methodological quality in content validity, structural validity, internal consistency, and the hypothesis testing of structural validity. Limited evidence was found for cross-cultural validity, stability, and criterion validity. No relevant evidence was found concerning measurement error and responsiveness. The Internalized AIDS-related Stigma Scale (IARSS), Internalized HIV Stigma Scale (IHSS), and Wright’s HIV stigma scale (WHSS) are recommended for use. CONCLUSIONS: This study recommends three PROMs for different stigma and discrimination scenarios, including IARSS for its good quality and convenience, IHSS for its broader range of items, higher sensitivity, and greater precision, and WHSS for its comprehensive and quick screening. Researchers should also consider the relevance and feasibility of the measurements before putting them into practice.


Zhang Y, Yang X, Chai X, Han S, Zhang L, Shao Y, Ma J, Li K, Wang Z




  • Epidemiology and Determinants of Health
    • Determinants of Health
  • Determinants of Health
    • Stigma/discrimination
  • Population(s)
    • General HIV+ population
  • Health Systems
    • Governance arrangements


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