Epidemiology and assessment of the physical disabilities and psychosocial disorders in new leprosy patients admitted to a referral hospital in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Objective: Despite intensive campaigns initiated in the 1990s, leprosy remains endemic in Brazil. It is essential that simple and efficient methods of assessing the extent of disease-related disabilities be established so that appropriate treatment and rehabilitation can be provided to patients in order to break the disease transmission chain.
Method: The socioeconomic, clinical, and physical/psychosocial disabilities of 56 new leprosy patients admitted to a referral hospital in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, were assessed using available rating scale tools namely, WHO Impairment Grade (IG), Eye-Hand-Foot (EHF) Impairment Sum, Green Pastures Activity Scale (GPAS), Screening of Activity Limitation and Safety Awareness (SALSA), Participation, Jacoby stigma and Hamilton depression scales.
Results: Approximately 60% of the patients exhibited Grade 1 or 2 physical disabilities, 46% presented activity limitations and lacked safety awareness, around 30% presented difficulties in social interaction and perceived leprosy-related stigma and about 60% exhibited some degree of depression.
Conclusions: Continuation of intensive educational campaigns in schools, administration of proper medical and psychological care to patients with disfigurement/deformities and reevaluation of the role of specialised referral hospitals will be required if leprosy is to be removed from the list of public health diseases in Brazil.