Effects of Hansen's Disease Stigma on the Psychosocial World of Survivors and Family Members

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Addis Ababa University


This study attempts to examine the effects of HD stigma on the psychosocial world of survivors and family members. Data were collected from 60 survivors (30F&30M) and 60 family members (30F &30M) residing in three different sites in Addis Ababa by means of structured interview schedules. Qualitative research method (case studies) also used to gather in depth individual data. The quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and t- test. The result revealed that the survivors and family members experience serious kinds of emotional and behavioral disturbances due to HD stigma. These include depression, anger, anxiety, and haired towards general community. Termination from job, school dropout, divorce, etc. could also be found as the cost paid of this stigma. However, the t-test result revealed that these effects are more severe in family member than survivors, and in females than males. Regarding the strategies adopted in managing stigma concealing the disease, denying, displacement, telling unreal stories, social withdraw and restrictions in participating in social junctions were used by the respondents. Absence of public education program about the disease lack of public awareness, lack of cooperation between professional workers and persons with HD, absence of counseling, lack of vocational rehabilitation, and societal negative attitudes towards integration were found to be the major hazards in the reintegration of them into society. Finally, the importance of counseling for the survivors and family members, health education for the community, promoting the right, wellbeing, and education of females, provision of assertiveness training especially to family members, awareness creation programme, etc. were recommended as strategies for the improvement of HD survivors and family member life.