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Objectives: Infectious diseases are the most common cause of disease stigmatisation, which can lead to a denial of healthcare, education, housing and employment as well as physical violence. Such stigmatisation is common during pandemics. This study aimed to examine the social stigmatisation of COVID-19 among residents of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Methods: A cross-sectional descriptive study was conducted in Riyadh in May 2020. Non-probability convenient sampling was used to recruit 847 participants through social media platforms, including WhatsApp. The data were analysed using descriptive statistics, the Pearson correlation coefficient and the chi-squared test were used along with a multiple linear regression model. Results: There was a high level of stigma among 21% of the participants and an intermediate level in almost 49% of the participants. Low stigma was indicated among 30% of the study’s sample. A highly significant association existed between stigma, on the one hand, and older age groups, being married and lower levels of education, on the other. Conclusion: Future awareness programmes should educate patients and their families about stigma as well as the consequences of stigmatising COVID-19. Stigma eradication policies and interventions should be implemented to avoid potentially harmful consequences for public health.
Keywords: Social stigma; COVID-19; Pandemic; Saudi Arabia.
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