STRETCH for Stigma

Stigma reinforces the exclusion of children - and reduces access to vital services

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A common approach

Research Lead
“Stigma is universal but impacts locally. Also in conflict-affected communities there are multiple stigmas that impede access, participation and inclusion. While many interventions address one stigma, we aim to develop a common approach which can be used across stigmas and settings, increasing its relevance.”

Kim Hartog, Researcher

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Want to learn more or ask a specific question? Contact Kim via email or LinkedIn.


Left behind

  • Stigmatisation is manifest in discriminating forms of behaviour such as rejection, preferential treatment and targeted violence
  • It reduces a child’s life chances and can have a significant negative impact on their physical and psychosocial wellbeing
  • Interventions to reduce stigma have typically focused predominantly on adults - leaving children behind
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A systematic review conducted by our R&D team concluded that children remain an under-addressed target group in stigma reduction interventions with a lack of evidence-based strategies at multiple socio-ecological levels. Read the full article here.



STRETCH is in the early stages of the research process, meaning - we don’t know exactly what it looks like yet. Before we create a ready-to-go method, we first need to measure the level of stigmatisation that’s taking place in any given community. Stigma can be measured from various angles including self stigmatisation; in which the stigmatising beliefs are internalised, received stigmatisation; in which stigmatisation is experienced and anticipated stigmatisation; in which stigmatisation is expected to take place.

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We have conducted a systematic review to understand which stigma measures have been applied so far with children and adolescents in low- and middle-income countries. We have analysed the content of these measures: the drivers, angles and location of stigmatisation which will help us identify what measures to use.


Gathering feedback

STRETCH aims for applicability to any stigma in any conflict-affected context. In other words, the development of such a method is a long process. One step within our research process is to gather feedback - so that the method is not developed in isolation. For STRETCH, feedback from children and communities across stigmas and contexts is absolutely crucial.

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In order to develop STRETCH, our research team conducted a review comparing stigma reduction strategies across stigmatised groups in low- and middle-income countries, specifically highlighting stigma reduction interventions that targeted children and adolescents.



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In partnership with Vandejong Creative Agency and supported by the Dutch Relief Alliance, we have developed a card game - Community Tales. The game uses a fictional scenario to facilitate players to start a conversation around the process of stigmatisation covering everything from how stigmatisation manifests itself to what can be done to address it.


Our partners

STRETCH is driven by collaboration with partners from the humanitarian sector and beyond.

These partners include:

Researchers supporting STRETCH:

Dr. Ruth Peters of the Vrije Universiteit is specialized in measuring stigma and dealing with leprosy-related stigma.

Dr. Brandon Kohrt is a medical anthropologist, psychiatrist and Adjunct Associate Professor of the Duke Global Health Institute.

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Who does what? Vandejong: Creative Agency producing user-friendly design Elva: The Data Science partner innovating mobile data collection Ten Have Change Management: The Knowledge partner on community driven change TPO Uganda: The Local Implementation partner working to empower communities to improve their mental health and socio-economic well-being, providing essential insights for adapting the intervention Dutch Relief Alliance: Our funding partner – a coalition of 15 Dutch aid and humanitarian organisations in partnership with the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.



A practice run of the method has already been concluded in DR Congo, followed by a pilot of the Community Tales game in Uganda (2020-2021).

Recent research

Stigma triggers

A formative study was conducted in DR Congo to explore whether stigmatisation constructs - particularly the triggers of stigmatisation and its manifestations - were comparable between populations experiencing exclusion and discrimination as a result of social characteristics. This was found to be the case - and supported the development of a common approach.
The article, published in Elsevier’s Foundation of Science journal, can be accessed here.

Next steps

Our research agenda

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Following the Uganda pilot in 2021, we will conduct further research with a much larger sample size to test for effectiveness on stigma reduction. We are currently looking for funding to support this next phase of our research journey. Interested in collaborating? Please reach out to Kim via the contact section below.

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Meet our Research and Development Team

Kim is a PhD candidate at the University of Amsterdam. Kim is also a member of War Child’s Research and Development team, where she leads our efforts to develop stigma reduction approaches for use in humanitarian settings.