Social sides of health risks: Stigma and collective efficacy

Rachel A. Smith, Merissa Ferrara, Kim Witte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Health threats may not occur in a vacuum; one may need others' support to address a given health condition. For example, in Namibia, parents dying from AIDS-related illnesses leave their orphaned children in need of adoption. If people do not feel threatened by HIV personally, social threats might motivate them to action. We extend the extended parallel process model (Witte, 1992) to include 2 social perceptions: (a) stigma and (b) collective efficacy. We found that Namibian respondents (n = 400) who did not feel threatened by HIV personally showed a relationship between these social perceptions and their willingness to support those living with HIV and their willingness to adopt AIDS orphans. These effects appeared for those who did not assess HIV as a health threat, suggesting that social threats, combined with efficacy, may motivate intentions to adopt recommended actions. Practical applications and intervention designs are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-64
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Communication
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication


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