This study explored the perceptions of people affected by leprosy regarding impact of socio-economic rehabilitation (SER) on stigma-reduction. The study combined a quantitative questionnaire (the P-scale) with semi-structured interviews of 20 individual SER participants, five focus group discussions and 10 key informant interviews. The P-scale results showed four men suffered significant participation restrictions (scores of >12 points) in finding work and in social integration. The narratives of SER participants, focus groups and key informants showed that SER improved self-esteem, financial independence, acquisition of new skills, and access to public institutions. The authors speculate that through the pathway of improvements in economic and living conditions, SER is beginning to influence the process of social interaction, resulting in positive attitudinal change towards SER participants. The subjective opinions of interviewees suggest that improved self-esteem, positive family and community support for SER participants and increasing participation in community activities are indications of stigma-reduction.
Asia Pacific Disability Rehabilitation Journal, Vol 18, No 2