The Nature and Impact of Stigma Towards Injured Workers

Kirsh, Bonnie; Slack, Tesha; King, Carole
June 2012
Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation;Jun2012, Vol. 22 Issue 2, p143
Academic Journal
Introduction Many injured workers experience high levels of stigma and discrimination, which compound their physical injuries and cause social and psychological harm. Despite a growing awareness of the prevalence of such stigma, there is little research that focuses on the sources, nature and consequences of stigma with respect to the lives of injured workers. The purpose of this paper is to advance knowledge related to stigma towards injured workers, specifically to explain the nature and processes of stigma and their influence on injured workers' lives. Methods Using a constructivist grounded theory approach, data from focus groups ( n = 28 participants) and individual interviews ( n = 18) were analyzed to discern how stigma is exhibited and perpetuated, and its impact on the lives of injured workers. Results The study culminated in a preliminary theoretical framework that delineates the key components of the manifestations and impacts of stigma that includes stereotypes, unethical practices and maltreatment negatively affecting work, relationships and the mental health of injured workers. Conclusions The development of sound conceptualizations in this area can advance our understanding of stigma processes and provide a framework for anti-stigma efforts. The findings have implications for public education, workplace interventions and services for injured workers.


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