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Stigma towards people who use drugs: A case vignette study in methadone maintenance treatment clinics in China.



Drug use stigma among service providers has been recognized as a barrier to improving the accessibility and outcomes of addiction treatment. This study examined the stigmatizing attitudes towards people who use drugs (PWUD) among service providers in methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) clinics in China and its associated factors.


The cross-sectional study used the baseline data of a randomized intervention trial conducted in China, and the data were collected from January 2012 to August 2013. A total of 418 MMT service providers were included in the study. Stigma towards PWUD was measured via a 10-item scale embedded in two case vignettes (PWUD and non-PWUD). The Wilcoxon signed-rank test was performed to evaluate the vignette difference for each item of the scale. The linear mixed model was used to identify the adjusted association between drug use stigma and other interested variables including demographics, professional background, and MMT knowledge of the service providers.


The Wilcoxon signed-rank tests showed that the participants had a higher level of stigmatizing attitudes towards PWUD than non-PWUD (p-value<0.001 for all items of the stigma scale). The linear mixed model identified that the reception of national MMT training was associated with a lower degree of drug use stigma (estimate=-1.79; 95% CI: -3.13, -0.45; p-value = 0.009).


The findings of the study provide evidence of the existence of drug use stigma among MMT providers in China. The expansion of national-level training and the development of stigma reduction interventions are needed to address this issue.

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