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Qualitative study of the stigma associated with the lived experiences of Buruli ulcer disease among patients in Nigeria


Background: Buruli ulcer disease (BUD) is a neglected tropical disease of the skin, subcutaneous tissue and bone caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans, with various disabling and stigmatising sequelae. Patients face a range of adverse impacts owing to the disease as most are unable to relate effectively with their communities, battling stigma and fear of discrimination. This study aimed to explore the stigma associated with the lived experiences of BUD in patients in Nigeria.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional qualitative study that employed a focus group discussion (FGD) and key informant interviews in Enugu State, Nigeria. A random sampling of communities was followed by a purposive selection of FGD participants and key informants. A total of six key informants and eight FGD participants took part in the study. Data were collected over 6 wk from December 2022 to February 2023. The NVivo application was used to analyse transcripts and compute themes of quotes.

Results: Patients experienced stigma owing to the condition. The most reported experiences by participants were shame and culpability, isolation and social exclusion, including maltreatment from family members.

Conclusions: Identifying the stigma experienced by patients owing to BUD helps in the provision of psychosocial management services and support for patients.

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Journal Article
Azubuike PC
Imo UF
Ogbonna CK