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October 2015

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Health Communication



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Alcoholism is a highly stigmatized condition, with both alcohol-dependent individuals and family members of the afflicted experiencing stigmatization. This study examined the severity of a parent’s alcoholism and family topic avoidance about alcohol as two factors that are associated with family members’ perceptions of stigma. Three dimensions of stigma were considered: discrimination stigma, disclosure stigma, and positive aspect stigma. In addition, this study assessed associations between perceived stigmatization and individuals’ experiences of depressive symptoms, self-esteem, and resilience. Adult children of alcoholics (N = 622) were surveyed about family conditions, perceived stigma, and their emotional and psychological well-being. Regression analyses revealed that the severity of a parent’s alcoholism predicted all three types of stigma for females, but not for males. In addition, family topic avoidance about alcohol predicted all types of stigma for males and discrimination stigma and positive aspect stigma for females. With few exceptions, the three types of stigma predicted depressive symptoms, self-esteem, and resilience for both male and female adult children of alcoholics. The results are discussed in terms of their implications for promoting a family environment that mitigates stigma and encourages emotional and psychological well-being.


SJSU users: use the following link to login and access the article via SJSU databases.This is an original manuscript / preprint of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Health Communication on 10/9/2015, available online: