Stigmatization of Illicit Drug use among Puerto Rican Health Professionals in Training

Nelson Varas Díaz, Salvador Santiago Negrón, Torsten B. Neilands, Francheska Cintrón Bou, Souhail Malavé Rivera


Social stigma continues to be a barrier for health promotion in our society. One of the most stigmatized health conditions in our time continues to be addiction to illicit drug use. Although it has been widely recognized as a health concern, criminalizing approaches continue to be common in Puerto Rico. Health professionals need to engage in challenging the stigma of illicit drug use in order to foster policies and government efforts with health oriented approaches. Still, personal stigmatizing attitudes among them continue to be a barrier for the implementation of this agenda. Therefore, the main objectives of this study were to document stigma towards illicit drug use among a sample of health professionals in training, and explore differences in such attitudes among participants from different areas of training. In order to achieve this objective we carried out a sequential mixed method approach with a sample of 501 health professionals in training or practice from the disciplines of medicine, nursing, psychology and social work. Results evidence the continued existence of stigmatizing attitudes among this population. We discuss some of the implications for public health and potential strategies for action.


Illicit Drug Use, Stigma, Puerto Rico, Health Professionals

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Published by the University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus
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