The stigmatisation of the provision of services for alcohol and other drug users: A systematic literature review

Document Type

Journal Article


Informa Healthcare


School of Psychology




Hersh, D., Armstrong, E., Bourke, N. (2015). A narrative analysis of a speech pathologist's work with Indigenous Australians with acquired communication disorders in Disability and Rehabilitation, 37(1), 33-40. Available here.


Alcohol and other drug (AOD) workers are often stigmatised. This article describes a systematic review of the existing literature that addresses three aims: (1) identify how stigma occurs for people working in the AOD field, (2) identify what the impacts of stigma are on AOD workers and AOD service provision more broadly and (3) identify what extent stigma occurs for AOD workers. The review involved a multi-phase database, journal and website search, with additional hand searching of relevant referenced articles. Seven studies were found, pertaining to stigma and working in the AOD sector. Findings indicate that AOD workers experience stigma and this impedes occupational functioning. Stigma is not clearly conceptualised in these studies. It is unclear if researchers used the same construct of stigma as in the broader psychological research on stigma. It is also unclear as to what conceptualisation of stigma research participants in these studies held (e.g. stigma of self, workplace, client or job role). This has important implications for determining the degree to which the worker personally experiences and is impacted by stigma. Research is needed to clarify the origins, manifestations and impacts of stigma in relation to working in the AOD field.