A single dose of rifampicin to prevent leprosy: qualitative analysis of perceptions of people affected, contacts, community members and health professionals towards chemoprophylaxis and the impact on their attitudes in India, Nepal and Indonesia
Introduction: The purpose of this study is to investigate the impact of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and the education given along with PEP on knowledge about leprosy and the attitudes and reported behaviour towards people affected by leprosy. This study is a sub-study of the Leprosy Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (LPEP) programme.
Methods: Seventy-two semi-structured interviews and five Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) were conducted in India, Nepal and Indonesia. The study population consisted of i) index patients, ii) contacts, iii) community members and iv) health professionals. The participants were selected purposively. A team of four social scientists analysed the data using a thematic analysis.
Results: The participants in this study were mostly positive and sometimes very positive about the possibility to prevent leprosy in close contacts through a single dose of rifampicin. Most respondents reported that there were no changes in their views towards leprosy or people affected by leprosy after the intervention. The study revealed that the incorrect health information that was retained and the wish of some people affected to conceal the illness poses challenges for a PEP programme.
Conclusion: The LPEP programme was perceived positively and no negative effects were reported. In this analysis, PEP did not appear to have an effect on the way leprosy or people affected by leprosy were perceived. More research is needed on providing health information that is accurate and understandable for contacts, and on approaches in which disclosure of the index patient is not required.