Navigation Links
Stigmas, once evolutionarily sound, are now bad health strategies
Date:3/28/2014

Stigmatization may have once served to protect early humans from infectious diseases, but that strategy may do more harm than good for modern humans, according to Penn State researchers.

"The things that made stigmas a more functional strategy thousands of years ago rarely exist," said Rachel Smith, associate professor of communication arts and sciences and human development and family studies. "Now, it won't promote positive health behavior and, in many cases, it could actually make the situation worse."

Stigmatizing and ostracizing members stricken with infectious diseases may have helped groups of early humans survive, said Smith, who worked with David Hughes, assistant professor of entomology and biology. Infectious agents thrive by spreading through populations, according to Smith and Hughes, who published an essay in the current issue of Communication Studies.

For early humans, a person who was stigmatized by the group typically suffered a quick death, often from a lack of food or from falling prey to a predator. Groups did not mix on a regular basis, so another group was unlikely to adopt an ostracized person. Infectious disease stigmas may have evolved as a social defense for group-living species, and had adaptive functions when early humans had these interaction patterns.

However, modern society is much larger, more mobile and safer from predators, eliminating the effectiveness of this strategy, according to Smith.

"In modern times, we mix more regularly, travel more widely, and also there are so many people now," Smith said. "These modern interaction patterns make stigmatization unproductive and often create more problems."

Hughes studies disease in another successful society, the ants, which have strong stigma and ostracism strategies that serve group interests at the cost to individuals.

"Ants are often held up as paragons of society and efficiency but we certainly do not want to emulate how they treat their sick members, which can be brutal," said Hughes.

Stigmatization could actually make infectious disease management worse. The threat of ostracization may make people less likely to seek out medical treatment. If people refuse to seek treatment and go about their daily routines, they may cause the disease to spread farther and faster, according to the researchers, who are both investigators in the Center of Infectious Disease Dynamics in Penn State Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences.

Stigmatization may harm a person's ability to survive a disease. Ostracization may increase stress, lessening the body's ability to fight off diseases and infections.

"People are very sensitive to rejection and humans worry about being ostracized," said Smith. "These worries and experiences with rejection can cause problematic levels of stress and, unfortunately, stress can compromise the immune system's ability to fight off an infection, accelerating disease progression."

Once applied, a stigma is difficult to remove, even when there are obvious signs that the person was never infected or is cured. Health communicators should make sure they intentionally monitor if their public communication or intervention materials create or bolster stigmas before using them, Smith said.


'/>"/>
Contact: Matt Swayne
mls29@ps.edu
814-865-9481
Penn State
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Ablation Technologies Market (Radiofrequency, Cryoablation, Ultrasound, Hydrothermal) Worth $12.4 Billion by 2016 - New Report by MarketsandMarkets
2. Medical Automation Market (Radiography, Ultrasound, Defibrillator, Microplate Reader) 2018 Forecasts in New Research Report at RnRMarketResearch.com
3. Hobe Sound, Fla. Residents Get Ready for Relay for Life
4. Number of babies mom has may play role in future cardiovascular health
5. Eating fruits and vegetables linked to healthier arteries later in life
6. TGen and Scottsdale Healthcare cancer expert Dr. Von Hoff receives Hope Funds award
7. Gen X obesity a major problem for healthcare, workforce
8. California recognized by March of Dimes for advancements in the health of moms and babies
9. New reason to eat oats for heart health
10. Menopause International re-launching as Post Reproductive Health
11. Husbands health and attitude loom large for happy long-term marriages
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/12/2016)... ... February 12, 2016 , ... AssureVest Insurance Group, a locally owned insurance ... drive that will raise funds earmarked to purchase computers and software for Mrs. Harrison’s ... “My school is in a low-income area and has more than 60 2nd and ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... ... ... Erlanger Agency has announced a new partnership in its ongoing community involvement ... the fight against breast cancer, fundraising for a local woman named Carmen, who is ... is a loving single mother of two boys who also serves as caregiver for ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... MIAMI, FLA (PRWEB) , ... February 12, 2016 , ... ... free dental implants to their Miami dental office. Beginning in January, Miami Dental ... traditional titanium. Miami Dental Specialists are the first office to be chosen by the ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... NY (PRWEB) , ... February 12, 2016 , ... ... of “Revolutionizing Cancer Care.” , The print component of “Revolutionizing Cancer ... Dallas, Pittsburgh/Cleveland, New York, Washington DC/Baltimore, and Seattle, with a circulation of approximately ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Homeowners now have a next generation tool ... leading brand of building products, has improved upon its industry-best array of home ... of the ColorView® Exterior Style and Color Selector. Created expressly for the iPad®, ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:2/12/2016)... Va. , Feb. 12, 2016   National ... Hoey , RPh, MBA issued the following statement today ... released by the Centers for Medicare & ... raised by NCPA, beneficiary advocates and others: ... raised. We are still reviewing the full CMS analysis. ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... , Feb. 12, 2016  Innophos Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: ... nutritional specialty ingredients, today announced that it will host a ... am ET to discuss its fourth quarter and full year ... The press release detailing fourth quarter and full year ... market close. --> --> ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... 2016  SI-BONE, Inc., a medical device company that pioneered the ... invasive surgical (MIS) device indicated for fusion for certain disorders of ... the Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC) covering the states of ... , Massachusetts , Minnesota ... , Rhode Island , Vermont ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: