Knowledge and Awareness Regarding Leprosy and its Treatment Among Leprosy Patients in a Tertiary Care Hospital
Background: Study was conducted to assess awareness of leprosy and its treatment among leprosy patients presenting at a tertiary care hospital in Lucknow (UP), India. Methods: The study was conducted by a qualified interviewer using a 12-point self-prepared questionnaire on 78 leprosy patients turning up at the Dermatology Out-Patient Department of I.I.M.S & R and Hospital in Lucknow (UP) from January 2015 to June 2016. Results: Around 73% patients had heard about leprosy, while remaining 27% patients were either unaware or not sure. About 33% of the total 78 patients thought leprosy to be a type of infection, 21.7% said it was due to bad blood, 20.5% said it was exclusively a skin disease, 10% attributed it to supernatural phenomenon and rest of the 14% patients were unsure about its cause. Nearly 43.5% patients believed that they got the disease by coming in direct contact with some infected individual and 25.6% patients believed it to be as a result of some alteration in the blood. About 56.4% patients believed that leprosy was a communicable disease. Only 30.7% patients were confident that leprosy was curable. Approximately 72% patients knew one or more sign/symptom of leprosy. Only 23% patients were well aware of multidrug therapy (MDT) for leprosy while even a further lower percentage had knowledge of its free availability at government hospitals or centres. More than 90% patients did not know about the duration of treatment. Only about 27% patients believed that allopathic medications would be best for curing leprosy while remaining 63% patients were either not sure or believed that alternate medicine (unani, homeopathy or auyurveda) could cure leprosy better. Literacy influenced the answer for many of the questions although in few areas it had less or no effect at all. Conclusion: Awareness of leprosy is still not adequate among the masses. Further steps are needed to ensure that basic knowledge of leprosy, its signs & symptoms, MDT and its availability is conveyed more to the general population by educating them at the grass root level through various literacy programme and other innovative ideas.
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