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Psychosocial burden of neglected tropical diseases in eastern Colombia: an explorative qualitative study in persons affected by leprosy, cutaneous leishmaniasis and Chagas disease

Abstract
Background
Leprosy, cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) and Chagas disease (CD) are neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) with a high psychosocial burden in Norte de Santander and Arauca in Colombia. This study provides insights into affected persons' feelings, perceptions and experiences to better understand the nature of this burden.

Methods
In 2018, 34 leprosy, CD and CL patients participated in four focus groups discussing the influence of the disease on mental well-being, social participation and stigma. Additionally, 13 leprosy patients participated in semi-structured interviews to further explore the health-related stigma related to this disease. Audio recordings were transcribed verbatim, and open coding was used to identify the most relevant categories and themes.

Results
Persons suffering from CD reported that their mental distress was mainly caused by impairments and stress related to the progressive and incurable nature of the disease. Persons affected by CL perceived the treatment for the disease as having the most impact on their psychosocial well-being. Persons affected by leprosy reported suffering most from anticipated and experienced stigma.

Conclusions
The findings indicate that these diseases are likely to impose a significant psychosocial burden on patients in the studied regions, even though these vary per condition. Consistent data collection on the psychosocial burden and the sharing of knowledge of effective interventions can contribute to the holistic approach needed to win the fight against NTDs.

More information

Type
Journal Article
Author
van Wijk R
van Selm L
Barbosa MC
van Brakel WH
Waltz M
Philipp Puchner K
Year of Publication
2021
Journal
Global Mental Health
Volume
8
Language
eng
ISSN Number
2054-4251
DOI
10.1017/gmh.2021.18
PMID
34249368
Publication Language
eng