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The severity of psychosocial and functional morbidity among facially disfigured untreated noma cases in Ethiopia


Objectives: Noma is a facially disfiguring disease that affects the oral cavity and midface structures. If left untreated, the disease is fatal. Noma causes severe cosmetic and functional defects in survivors, leading to psychiatric and social problems. However, there are limited data on psychosocial and functional sequelae associated with this disease. This cross-sectional study aimed to investigate psychosocial and functional morbidity among facially disfigured untreated Noma cases. Study participants were volunteer patients diagnosed with noma and awaiting surgery at two noma treatment centers in Ethiopia. A questionnaire derived from the APA’s DSM-5, the DAS59, and the Appearance Anxiety Inventory protocol was used to measure the psychosocial and functional morbidity of the cases between September 16 and October 10, 2022.

Results: A total of 32 noma cases (19 women and 13 men) awaiting the next surgical campaigns were involved in the study. Study participants reported severe social (Likert score = 2.8) and psychological (Likert score = 3.0) morbidity. Functional limitation was moderate (Likert score = 2.9). This study has shown that psychosocial and functional morbidity in untreated noma cases in Ethiopia is substantial. Therefore, policymakers, clinicians, and researchers need to pay sufficient attention to providing adequate health care and preventing the occurrence of the disease in the long term.

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Journal Article
Gebretsadik HG