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The importance of familiarity with caregiving for public caregiver stigma: Evidence from a cross-sectional study in Germany

Objectives: This study aimed to investigate the association between familiarity with caregiving and public stigma towards informal caregivers of older individuals. Material and methods: The sample for this Online-Survey was identified using a quota-system based on German micro census data (N=1037; aged 18 years and older, living in Germany). Familiarity with caregiving was assessed by asking whether the participant has experience in or has friends or relatives with experience in informal or professional caregiving for individuals aged 65 years or older. Public caregiver stigma was assessed by analyzing the emotional, behavioral and cognitive reactions towards caregivers as described in a vignette. Results: Adjusted regressions analyses indicated that experience in providing informal care was associated with increased appreciative feelings and statements, and decreased social distance. Experience in providing professional care was associated with increased devaluing statements. Having friends or relatives who have experience in informal caregiving was associated with decreased social distance. Having friends or relatives who have experience in professional caregiving was associated with decreased devaluing feelings, increased appreciative feelings and decreased social distance. Conclusions: Results indicate that familiarity with caregiving, through one's own informal care experience or through contact with informal or professional caregivers, reduced public stigma towards informal caregivers. Moreover, experience with informal care or contact with professional caregivers increased appreciation of informal caregivers. However, increased negative stigmatizing statements were indicated among participants with experience in professional caregiving. Fostering contact and cooperation between informal caregivers and non-caregivers, as well as with professional caregivers may help reduce stigmatizing reactions. 

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Key Information

Type of Reference
Jour
Type of Work
Journal article
Publisher
Elsevier
ISBN/ISSN
01674943
Publication Year
2021
Journal Titles
Informal caregivingPublic stigmaFamiliarityContact hypothesisSocial identity theory
Volume Number
93
Start Page
104301