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Psychological distress and quality of life in leprosy patients with neuropathic pain


Leprosy is widely known because of progressive damage to the peripheral nerves. In spite of multidrug therapy, some patients develop chronic neuropathic pain after bacteriological cure. Chronic pain is associated with psychological distress and is also an important predictor of poor quality of life. The aim of this study is to assess psychological distress in leprosy patients with chronic neuropathic pain, and its repercussions on their quality of life. The sample of this cross-sectional study comprised patients with chronic neuropathic pain after multidrug therapy. Neuropathic pain was confirmed by clinical examination and by the Douleur neuropathique en 4 questions questionnaire. Pain intensity was assessed using a visual analogic scale (VAS) ruler. The psychological health of the participants was measured using the 12-item General Health Questionnaire, and the WHOQOL-bref was used to assess quality of life. The mean pain intensity reported by participants on the VAS was 7·1 cm (SD ¼ 2·9). No differences in pain intensity with respect to gender were observed. Psychological distress was present in 76·2% of participants, being higher in those with Grade 2 of disability. Patients with psychological distress had the lowest mean scores in all domains of the WHOQOL-bref. The lowest mean scores according to domain were physical (9·9; SD ¼ 3·3), followed by environment (11·9; SD ¼ 3·0), psychological (13·5; SD ¼ 2·6) and social relations (14·0; SD ¼ 3·7). In conclusion, our study identified the presence of psychological distress in most of the participants. Patients with chronic neuropathic pain who were also found to have highpsychological distress levels had higher pain intensity and a poorer quality of life.

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