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Stigma in leprosy: a qualitative study of Leprosy affected patients at green pastures Hospital, western region of Nepal

Stigma is a social process of interpretation towards an attribute. Every illness in a society has its own set of interpretations. The consequent impacts of society towards leprosy are reflected by the level of perceived stigma in leprosy affected persons. The psychosocial impact a person has to bear in a society after the diagnosis weighs heavier than the physical afflictions it causes which does not get cured with the mere medical treatment. Understanding the deeper reasons for perceived stigma is thus essential in directing the stigma reduction programs in leprosy. Twenty 20 people affected with leprosy were interviewed in depth by using Explanatory Model Interview Catalogue and the semi-structured questionnaire. The semi-structured questionnaires were intended to explore the reasons for concealment of the disease,lowered self-esteem due to disease, perceived respect from others, impact on marriage and their experiences with leprosy. The study revealed that fear of the discrimination on disclosure of the disease was often reported. The most reported cause of fear was the strongly rooted stereotype attached to the disease. The false belief on transmission was the other mostly reported reason for the prevalent views towards leprosy and the reasons of their separation, isolation and rejection from family members, friends and society. In conclusion, the deeply rooted negative stereotypes attached to the disease, has accentuated the social process of concealment of the disease followed by the adverse consequences in leprosy affected persons. Despite that negative stereotypes attached to this disease are globally decreasing yet the remote impending fear persists. There is a need for 1) more health education programs targeting community and 2) continuing psychosocial support to the ex-leprosy and current leprosy affected persons as medical cure alone does not alleviate the vast cradle of ignorance and negative stereotypes attached to this disease.

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Journal Article
Adhikari B
Kaehler N
Raut S
Gyanwali K
Chapman R
Year of Publication
Journal of Health Research
Number of Pages
Call Number
Alternate Journal
J Health Res
Publication Language