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The stigma of intellectual disability in Spain: a nationally representative survey.

BACKGROUND: Stigma towards people with intellectual disability affects various aspects of their lives, including access to employment, housing, health and social care services. Furthermore, this stigma reduces their social opportunities and is even reflected in laws that diminish their autonomy. Due to the practical significance of this issue, the aim of this research is to explore for the first time the social stigma associated with intellectual disability in a representative sample of the Spanish population.

METHOD: A cross-sectional quantitative descriptive study was conducted, involving a representative sample of the population (N = 2746). The study includes descriptive analyses and hierarchical regressions to examine various dimensions of stigma, such as attitudes, attributions, and intentions of social distance.

RESULTS: Medium levels of stigma are found regarding attitudes and attributions towards people with intellectual disability, while levels are medium-low concerning the intention of social distance. The most reliable indicators of stigma across its various dimensions encompass attitudes, attributions, and the intention of social distance. Factors that contribute to lower stigma include knowing someone with an intellectual disability, being willing to discuss intellectual disability with an acquaintance who has it and having a progressive political ideology. People with intellectual disability show more negative attributions towards themselves. Living with a person with an intellectual disability is another predictor of more stigmatising attitudes, but less intention of social distance. Results are mixed regarding age, gender, and educational level.

CONCLUSION: Combating the stigmatisation of people with intellectual disabilities must include comprehensive actions to address attitudes, attributions and behavioural intentions. Public policies, such as national campaigns and programmes, should include contact with and open conversations about intellectual disability, and sensitivity to sociodemographic variables.

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