The Impact of Indigenous Identity and Treatment Seeking Intention on the Stigmatization of Substance Use

  • Emily Winters
  • Nick HarrisEmail author
Original Article


Substance use disorders (SUDs) are one of the most stigmatized mental health issues. There is a disproportionate burden of SUDs and related harms on Indigenous peoples in Canada. This study examined public stigma toward SUDs and if the degree of stigma would change as a result of Indigenous identity and treatment seeking intention. Participants (N = 711) were randomly assigned to read one of four vignettes depicting a person living with a SUD and then completed an online survey. Vignettes differed on the character’s ethnicity (Caucasian vs. First Nations) and their treatment seeking intention (seeking treatment vs. not seeking treatment). Participants then completed a series of questionnaires to assess stigma. Significant main effects of both ethnicity and treatment seeking were found on all three outcome measures of stigma. Specifically, participants assigned a vignette depicting a First Nations person responded with more stigmatizing attitudes and participants assigned a vignette of a person not seeking treatment responded with more stigmatizing attitudes. Implications for these findings are discussed.


Substance use Indigenous Treatment seeking Stigma 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethics approval for this study was obtained from the Memorial University Research Ethics Board.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyMemorial University of NewfoundlandSt. John’sCanada

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