A systematic review on the cultural factors associated with stigma during pandemics

May Kyi Zay Hta, Rachel Sing Kiat Ting, Pei Hwa Goh, Qian Hui Gan, Liz Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Both public stigma and perceived self-stigma are prevalent during pandemics threatening a divide among the global community. This systematic review examined the cultural factors associated with viral respiratory-related pandemic stigma. Following PRISMA guidelines, the keywords, “culture, stigma, and pandemic” were searched across relevant databases for empirical papers between January 2000 to March 2022. Quality assessment and coding were adopted in the screening process. Thirty-one articles were included in the final analysis. Themes revealed that collectivistic values, cultural identities, and non-western regions were associated with public (others) stigma; mismatch of cultural values, minority groups, and North America, Asia, Oceania, and African regions were associated with higher perceived and self-stigma. We further mapped the themes into a proposed systemic cultural stigma model to integrate the dynamic intersection of cultural values, identity, and ecology. The cultural factors and their influence on stigma were then explained by drawing on two evolutionary theories: Cultural rationality theory and scapegoating theory. Lastly, we proposed culturally sensitive and responsive practices for stigma management at the community level, especially in non-Western regions during the pandemic recovery phase.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12938–12969
Number of pages32
JournalCurrent Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Culture
  • Evolutionary psychology
  • Pandemic stigma
  • Systematic review

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