Is the WHO disability grading system for leprosy related to the level of functional activity and social participation?
To investigate the relationship between the WHO disability grading system for leprosy with the limitations to perform daily functional activities and the decrease in social participation in participants with leprosy. Participants with a diagnosis of leprosy were recruited at the dermatology ambulatory clinic of the University Hospital of Sergipe. In order to investigate the association of WHO disability grading system for leprosy with activities of daily living measured with the Screening Activity Limitation and Safety Awareness (SALSA) scale and with the social participation (P-scale), we performed an analysis with the Kruskal-Wallis test and the Spearman coefficient. Thirty-six patients diagnosed with leprosy participated in the study. Most of participants had mild to moderate daily activity limitations and 58% of participants did not have any restriction participation. The findings demonstrated that the WHO grading is associated with the level of activity (P < 0·0001; p = 0·58), but not with the level of participation (P <0·05; p = 0·27). Although the WHO grading system is used in Brazil and worldwide as an epidemiological indicator to explain the burden of leprosy, the results of this study demonstrated that in our sample the WHO grading system was not associated with participation. Participation is a complex construct with the influence of different psychosocial factors. In order to determine social participation damage of infectious diseases such as leprosy, it is necessary to develop new index of classification based on a broader definition of disability. Health professionals should consider the international classification of function and health (ICF) to develop such index.