Measuring leprosy stigma--a preliminary review of the leprosy literature.
A literature review was conducted to review work done to date on measuring stigma related to leprosy. References were obtained through a PubMed (Medline) search and through examining relevant bibliographies. Twelve papers were selected that addressed the issue of measurement of stigma and that contained a sample of the instrument used. Three unpublished studies were also included in the review. Studies that attempt to measure stigma can be broadly categorized in two groups, a) studies that assess the effects of stigma on the person affected, and b) surveys that assess community attitudes and/or practices. The study and questionnaire characteristics of the studies in both categories are described and compared. The studies reviewed indicate that leprosy stigma is still a global phenomenon, occurring in both endemic and non-endemic countries. The consequences of stigma affect individuals as well as the effectiveness of leprosy control activities. Despite enormous cultural diversity, the areas of life affected are remarkably similar. They included mobility, interpersonal relationships, marriage, employment, leisure activities, and attendance at social and religious functions. This suggests that development of a standard stigma scale for leprosy may be possible. Data obtained with such an instrument would useful in situational analysis, advocacy work, monitoring and evaluation of interventions against stigma, and research to better understand stigma and its determinants.