Disability-related stigma and discrimination in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia: a systematic literature review

Main objectives

To understand the extent, quality and findings of published and unpublished literature on interventions designed to tackle disability-related stigma and discrimination in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia


The primary focus of this review was to identify studies that describe the effectiveness of interventions to tackle disability-related stigma and discrimination. The secondary set of objectives focused on understanding the individual, interpersonal, organisational, community and public policy factors that are associated with stigma and discrimination.

We sought to identify the various ways in which stigma and discrimination have been reported to manifest, the extent and range of their outcomes on the lives of people affected, and how they may intersect with other individual characteristics and types of stigma.

Finally, we sought to identify toolkits and good practice guidelines for addressing stigma and discrimination, as well as validated tolls and metrics for measuring them.

What are the implications for policy and practice?

This study has a number of implications for Sightsavers’ programme design and for the global disability research community more broadly:

  1. The review provides an overview of what is currently known about stigma related interventions and where the knowledge gaps are, highlighting the scope and focus for future research
  2. The review presents frameworks for understanding stigma drivers that need to be addressed, when developing projects to tackle stigma and discrimination
  3. The review identifies a range of tools and approaches for measuring different aspects of stigma and its outcomes, providing a useful basis for evaluation studies

Finally, the review confirms the complexity and heterogeneity that surrounds stigma and discrimination, which provides a useful basis for furthermore nuanced research into linkages between different types of stigma (for example, internalised, felt and enacted), as well as the complex relationships between the stigmatisers and those who are stigmatised.

This review can help to inform the design of future social inclusion programmes and makes a number of recommendations that need to be taken into account in the design, implementation and monitoring and evaluation of future programmes, which aim to tackle disability-related stigma and discrimination.

Study details
Start date
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Main contact
Emma Jolley
Global Technical Lead: Health and Disability Research
Cathy Stephen
Global Technical Lead: Behaviour Change Communication