Results from a difference-in-differences evaluation of health facility HIV and key population stigma-reduction interventions in Ghana
Nyblade, L., Addo, N. A., Atuahene, K., Alsoufi, N., Gyamera, E., Jacinthe, S., Leonard, M., Mingkwan, P. C., Stewart, C. A., Vormawor, R., & Kraemer, J. (2020). Results from a difference-in-differences evaluation of health facility HIV and key population stigma-reduction interventions in Ghana. Journal of the International AIDS Society, 23(4), Article e25483. https://doi.org/10.1002/jia2.25483
INTRODUCTION: Stigma undermines all aspects of a comprehensive HIV response, as reflected in recent global initiatives for stigma-reduction. Yet a commensurate response to systematically tackle stigma within country responses has not yet occurred, which may be due to the lack of sufficient evidence documenting evaluated stigma-reduction interventions. With stigma present in all life spheres, health facilities offer a logical starting point for developing and expanding stigma reduction interventions. This study evaluates the impact of a "total facility" stigma-reduction intervention on the drivers and manifestations of stigma and discrimination among health facility staff in Ghana.
METHODS: We evaluated the impact of a total facility stigma-reduction intervention by comparing five intervention to five comparable non-intervention health facilities in Ghana. Interventions began in September 2017. Data collection was in June 2017 and April 2018. The primary outcomes were composite indicators for three stigma drivers, self-reported stigmatizing avoidance behaviour, and observed discrimination. The principal intervention variable was whether the respondent worked at an intervention or comparison facility. We estimated intervention effects as differences-in-differences in each outcome, further adjusted using inverse probability of treatment weighting (IPTW).
RESULTS: We observed favourable intervention effects for all outcome domains except for stigmatizing attitudes. Preferring not to provide services to people living with HIV (PLHIV) or a key population member improved 11.1% more in intervention than comparison facility respondents (95% CI 3.2 to 19.0). Other significant improvements included knowledge of policies to protect against discrimination (difference-in-differences = 20.4%; 95% CI 12.7 to 28.0); belief that discrimination would be punished (11.2%; 95% CI 0.2 to 22.3); and knowledge of and belief in the adequacy of infection control policies (17.6%; 95% CI 8.3 to 26.9). Reported observation of stigma and discrimination incidents fell by 7.4 percentage points more among intervention than comparison facility respondents, though only marginally significant in the IPTW-adjusted model (p = 0.06). Respondents at intervention facilities were 19.0% (95% CI 12.2 to 25.8) more likely to report that staff behaviour towards PLHIV had improved over the last year than those at comparison facilities.
CONCLUSIONS: These results provide a foundation for scaling up health facility stigma-reduction within national HIV responses, though they should be accompanied by rigorous implementation science to ensure ongoing learning and adaptation for maximum effectiveness and long-term impact.