The COVID-19 pandemic has intensely changed the everyday lives of people worldwide. This study explores the forms and outcomes of coronavirus and COVID-19-related social stigma and the experiences of people who were home quarantined or isolated in Finland during the spring 2020. The findings of this study can be used to improve support for those quarantined or isolated and to develop strategies to reduce the stigma associated with coronavirus and COVID-19.
The study is based on qualitative one-to-one interviews with households with at least two members and at least one PCR confirmed COVID-19 case. Recruitment took place via website or SMS messages sent to PCR confirmed cases in the capital area of Helsinki. Sampling was based on maximum variation to acquire different types of respondents. The framework of health stigma was used to develop question guides and analyze stigma. Quarantine and isolation experiences were explored through open-ended questions. The analysis was based on thematic analysis.
The study included 64 participants from 24 households. Perceived stigma among respondents was driven by fear and blame for infection, and it manifested in various ways leading to a reluctance to disclose their coronavirus status to others. Self-stigma developed from conflicting information and advice about coronavirus and COVID-19 led to difficulties interacting with others outside of the house and reluctance to meet people after quarantine and isolation. Quarantine and isolation experiences included uncertainty, health concerns, and boredom. Communication with others in similar situations was perceived vital, whereas discussions with family members about worries and fears related to coronavirus and COVID-19 was not preferred.
This study shed light on the lives of those quarantined or isolated at home and provided a set of operational recommendations to minimize coronavirus and COVID-19-associated stigma and to reduce challenges faced by those in quarantine or isolation.
This is a PLoS ONE publication originally published on its website.