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Open Access Research

The impact of podoconiosis on quality of life in Northern Ethiopia

Elizabeth Mousley1, Kebede Deribe12*, Abreham Tamiru3 and Gail Davey1

Author Affiliations

1 Brighton and Sussex Medical School, Falmer, Brighton, United Kingdom

2 School of Public Health, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

3 International Orthodox Christian Charities, Debre Markos, Ethiopia

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Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 2013, 11:122  doi:10.1186/1477-7525-11-122

Published: 17 July 2013

Abstract

Background

Podoconiosis is one of the most neglected tropical diseases, which untreated, causes considerable physical disability and stigma for affected individuals. Little is known about the quality of life (QoL) of patients with podoconiosis. This study aimed to assess the QoL of patients with podoconiosis in comparison with healthy controls in Ethiopia.

Methods

A comparative cross-sectional study was conducted in May 2012, among 346 clinically confirmed adult patients with podoconiosis, and 349 healthy adult neighbourhood controls in Dembecha woreda (district) in northern Ethiopia. QoL was assessed using the validated Amharic version of the World Health Organisation Quality of Life questionnaire (WHOQoL-BREF) scale; in addition, mental health and stigma were assessed by the Kessler-10 scale and podoconiosis stigma scale respectively. Logistic regression analysis was done to identify factors associated with QoL.

Results

Patients with podoconiosis had significantly lower mean overall QoL than the controls (52.05 versus 64.39), and this was also true in all four sub domains (physical, psychological, social and environmental). Controls were 7 times more likely to have high (above median) QoL (Odds Ratio = 6.74, 95% Confidence Interval 4.62 to 9.84) than cases. Factors associated with lower QoL were: experiencing high levels of stigma, living in an urban area, being illiterate, having additional co-morbidities, and being unmarried. Mental illness was associated with lower scores in psychological and physical domains.

Conclusions

Programs targeting podoconiosis interventions should include QoL as an indicator for monitoring progress. Interventions targeting improvement of QoL among patients with podoconiosis should address depression, stigma and other co-morbidities.

Keywords:
Podoconiosis; Elephantiasis; Quality of life; Neglected tropical diseases; Ethiopia