Stigma Toward Persons with Intellectual Disability in South America: A Narrative Review

Marcela Tenorio*, Javiera Donoso, Afia Ali, Angela Hassiotis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


People with intellectual disability (ID) form one of the most underserved/stigmatized groups in society. Published data have documented stigma toward this population group in different countries. However, this phenomenon has received scant attention in South American countries. The aim of this work is to conduct a systematic search of published and gray literature in the area of stigma toward persons with ID within the 12 countries of the region to explore expression of stigma toward people with ID in the region. Systematic research of published data and gray literature, based on a previous published protocol, was run in this work. The search strategy included terms related to IDs being combined with stigma, prejudice, attitudes and stereotypes, and with the names of all the South American countries. Due to the known relationship between ID and Autism Spectrum Disorder, this term was included in the search. The search was conducted in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. A narrative approach to results is presented. Available information is organized by stakeholder groups, including persons with ID, families, caregivers, and mental health workers. The quality of the studies was analyzed based on the Mixed Method Appraisal Tool Version 2018, and results are variable. The results of the narrative review are indicative of the limited scientific study of stigma toward people with ID in South American countries and the clear sense that people with ID living in those countries report experience of stigmatizing attitudes. Future research, at population level, is needed in the region to ensure improvements in the quality of life and in the civil participation of people with ID.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)346-363
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by British Academy via Visiting Fellowships round 1, project VF1\101,037 awarded to Dr. Tenorio.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


  • South America
  • intellectual disability
  • prejudice
  • stereotype
  • stigma


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