Stigma and Social Exclusion in Healthcare

Stigma and Social Exclusion in Healthcare

Stigma and Social Exclusion in Healthcare

Stigma and Social Exclusion in Healthcare

Synopsis

Revealing the hidden strategies used by health sector professionals to prevent access by those considered unsuitable, this study exposes prejudices aimed at HIV sufferers, pregnant teenagers, people with disabilities and the elderly inter alios.

Excerpt

In undertaking this current editorial work we have been motivated by two dominant themes. The first concerns a micro-level aspect which involves the many individuals that have been, are now, and will be in the future both excluded and marginalised. The second concerns the macro political forces that have been exercised to create the conditions that have led to the exclusion, or inclusion, of individual members of society.

Most healthcare workers enter their respective professions with the intention of assisting those who are unfortunate enough to require their services. This motivation is usually grounded in compassion, and driven by a desire to care for those afflicted. Although we cannot guarantee that this is the basis of all healthcare delivery, as the infamous cases of Beverly Allit and Harold Shipman testify, we can feel reasonably confident that the majority of professionals operate with the best interests of the patient in mind. It may, therefore, seem odd that a major part of this book is concerned with how healthcare workers may contribute to the stigmatisation and social exclusion of those they intend to help. The processes by which this occurs are often subconsciously derived and we are not overtly aware that we are contributing to this unwanted condition. Furthermore, the hierarchical nature of healthcare professions and services provides fertile ground in which we may well stigmatise and exclude fellow workers, intentionally or unintentionally. If we wish to change this state of affairs, then we need to be aware of how these processes operate and how we can begin to change professional practice.

There is a call from many groups within society to re-examine the conditions that have led certain members to become socially excluded. These groups include those involved in education, those concerned with charitable organisations, those from ethnic minorities, those from various churches, and those from politics. We would like this book to be read as a text which joins this chorus, but which focuses on those stigmatised and excluded in the healthcare setting. Furthermore, we would feel that a major aim of the book would be achieved if healthcare professionals were enthused to voice, even louder than they already do, their concerns regarding the marginalised patient. The reasons for the concerns of all the

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