Stigma experiences in youth with facial differences: A multi-site study of adolescents and their mothers

Ronald P. Strauss, Barry L. Ramsey, Carla Fenson, Todd C. Edwards, Tari D. Topolski, Donald L. Patrick, Kathy A. Kapp-Simon, Christopher R. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

59 Scopus citations


Objectives: To describe stigma experiences of adolescents with congenital and acquired facial differences. Design: Used baseline cross-sectional stigma-related responses from a four site (Seattle WA, Galveston TX, Chicago IL and Chapel Hill NC) US study enrolling 185 English speaking, US participants ages 11-18 years old with facial differences (60% male; 80% congenital conditions). Closed-ended, self-administered questions drawn from the Youth Quality of Life Instrument - Facial Differences Module (YQOL-FD) determined perceptions of stigmatization. Mothers (n = 153) were independently asked seven matching questions. Results: Frequencies report combined responses of 'sometimes,' 'fairly often,' and 'very often.' Mother's responses are in parentheses. 35% (47%) noticed people staring at their face in the past week. 28% (43%) talked with others about how their face looks in the past month. 29% (31%) heard others say something about their face in the past month. 32% (32%) told peers about their facial difference in the past month. 12% (12%) felt left out of doing things with peers because of how their face looks in the past month. 11% (8%) got into a fight because of how their face looks in the past month. 20% (18%) were teased about how their face looks in the past month. Conclusions: Stigma experiences were frequently reported by youth with facial differences and were correlated with independent parental report. This level of stigma suggests that media and public health interventions may be warranted to reduce discrimination, prejudice and negative adolescent social experiences related to facial difference.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)96-103
Number of pages8
JournalOrthodontics and Craniofacial Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2007



  • Adolescents
  • Appearance
  • Craniofacial
  • Parents
  • Social
  • Stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthodontics
  • Surgery
  • Oral Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology

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