The Social Consequences of Stigma-Related Self-Concealment after Acquired Brain Injury

Barbara Hagger, Gerard Riley*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
647 Downloads (Pure)


Social relationships often decline after brain injury. Although much of this is due to psychosocial impairments caused by the injury, the reactions to the injury of others in the person’s wider social network, along with the response of the person with the injury to those reactions, also need to be considered. Anxiety about stigmatizing reactions from others may lead some to conceal information about their brain injury. This study investigated some of the social consequences of such concealment. Sixty-five participants with acquired brain injury completed the Anticipated Stigma and Concealment Questionnaire, the Social Avoidance and Distress Scale, the UCLA Loneliness Scale, the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, the Social Integration subscale of the Community Integration Questionnaire, and the Enacted Social Support Questionnaire. As hypothesized, concealment was associated with social anxiety, social avoidance, loneliness and lower self-esteem; and social anxiety mediated the impact that concealment had on social avoidance, loneliness and reduced community activity. However, the expectation that concealment would also be associated with reduced use of social support was not supported. Concealment may have negative consequences, but inappropriate disclosure can also be harmful. Services should support individuals to make optimal decisions about disclosing information about the brain injury to others and also help them address psychological barriers to disclosure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1129-1148
Number of pages20
JournalNeuropsychological Rehabilitation: an international journal
Issue number7
Early online date18 Sept 2017
Publication statusPublished - 9 Aug 2019


  • stigma
  • loneliness
  • social anxiety
  • self-esteem
  • self-disclosure
  • brain injury


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