Depression and mental wellbeing in people affected by leprosy in southern Nepal

Marloes M.A.R. van Dorst*, Wiebrich J. van Netten, Mitzi M. Waltz, Basu D. Pandey, Ramesh Choudhary, Wim H. van Brakel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Leprosy, a leading cause of disability, remains endemic in southern Nepal. Alongside physical impairment and stigmatization, many people affected by leprosy suffer from mental health problems.

This study had two objectives: (a) Establishing a baseline level of mental wellbeing and depression among people affected by leprosy in southern Nepal, and (b) Examining factors that influence mental wellbeing and depression in this target group.

A cross-sectional survey was conducted using three interview-administered questionnaires measuring level of depression (PHQ-9), mental wellbeing status (WEMWBS) and level of stigma (5-QSI-AP). Random clustering sampling was used to include leprosy-affected people from Self Help Groups (SHGs) and the reference group was matched based on socio-demographic characteristics. All participants were adults with no additional major morbidities. A sample of 142 persons affected by leprosy and 54 community controls were included.

People affected by leprosy participating in SHGs had a significantly lower level of mental wellbeing and higher level of depression than the general population. Both mental wellbeing and depression were influenced by gender and the level of stigma. In addition, the level of depression was associated with the disability grade of leprosy-affected people.

Leprosy-affected people need mental health-care interventions at different organizational levels, with attention to identifying individuals at increased risk for mental health problems or with additional needs. These findings highlight the demand for further research on specific interventions to improve the mental health of leprosy-affected people.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1815275
JournalGlobal Health Action
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Leprosy
  • Depression
  • mental wellbeing
  • Nepal
  • stigma


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