The quality of life, mental health, and perceived stigma of leprosy patients in Bangladesh.
The present study aims to determine the quality of life (QOL) and general mental health of leprosy patients compared with the general population, and evaluate contributing factors such as socio-economic characteristics and perceived stigma. A total of 189 patients (160 outpatients, 29 inpatients) and 200 controls without leprosy or other chronic diseases were selected from Dhaka district, Bangladesh, using stratified random sampling. A Bangladeshi version of a structured questionnaire including socio-demographic characteristics-the Bangla version of the World Health Organization Quality of Life Assessment BREF (WHOQOL-BREF)-was used to assess QOL; a Self-Reporting Questionnaire (SRQ) was used to evaluate general mental health; the Barthel Index to control activities of daily living (ADL); and the authors' Perceived Stigma Questionnaire was used to assess perceived stigma of patients with leprosy. Medical records were examined to evaluate disability grades and impairment. QOL and general mental health scores of leprosy patients were worse than those of the general population. Multiple regression analysis revealed that factors potentially contributing to the deteriorated QOL of leprosy patients were the presence of perceived stigma, fewer years of education, the presence of deformities, and a lower annual income. Perceived stigma showed the greatest association with adverse QOL. We conclude that there is an urgent need for interventions sensitive to the effects of perceived stigma, gender, and medical conditions to improve the QOL and mental health of Bangladeshi leprosy patients.