Purpose: Social isolation has increased in society due to the rapid transmission of the COVID-19 disease. Although social isolation reduces the risk of spreading the disease, it may cause people to have internalized stigmatization towards themselves and stigmatize others. This study aimed to evaluate whether people stigmatize others and themselves about COVID-19 in society during the COVID-19 period.
Method: In this study conducted to evaluate the perception of stigmatization of people about COVID-19 towards others and themselves in society, statements on stigmatization were prepared by utilizing the stigmatization scales built previously. Two different forms were used to assess the perception of stigmatization toward others (Form A) and towards themselves (Form B). The statements in the present study were in the form of a 6-point Likert. The form was applied online. In this study, 416 (223 female, 193 male) individuals aged 18 and over were reached online. The data obtained were analyzed with SPSS 24.0 package program. Total reliability regarding Cronbach's α values were α=0.83 for Form A in total and 0.91 and 0.89 for sub-dimensions of Form A, respectively. α values were 0.80 for Form B in total, and 0.79 and 0.44 for its sub-dimensions, in order.
Results: In this study, no significant difference was found between the two genders regarding stigmatization towards themselves and others. However, significant differences were only observed among age groups, in "social stigmatization" and "discriminatory behavior towards others" sub-dimensions; among the places of residence in "stigmatization towards others" and "social stigmatization" sub-dimensions; and finally among education status in "social stigmatization towards others" "social stigmatization" and "perception of social stigmatization towards others" sub-dimensions.
Conclusion: During epidemics and infectious diseases, people may stigmatize themselves and others or be exposed to stigmatization. Stigma may have a negative impact on the treatment of the disease and the seeking of help. In this study, it was observed that various demographic characteristics had impacts on the stigma related to COVID-19, especially in stigmatization towards others. Thus, it would be useful to consider demographic characteristics in the management of the perception of stigma in society and in studies investigating the stigmatization of COVID-19