Physical and psychosocial burden due to lymphatic filariasis as perceived by patients and medical experts
Patients with lymphatic filariasis (LF) face considerable physical, psychological and social disabilities. Morbidity management and control are important components of the Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis. But information on the various disabilities caused by LF is scanty. We measured the severity levels of seven health states of LF in the physical and psychosocial domains of health from the perspective of patients and medical experts, using a 7-domain 5-level (7D5L) descriptive system. Adenolymphangitis had the highest severity levels in all domains of health followed by lymphoedema grade 4 (L4), lymphoedema grade 3 (L3), hydrocele grade 2 (H2), lymphoedema grade 2 (L2), lymphoedema grade1 (L1) and hydrocele grade 1 (H1). People with higher grades of lymphoedema and hydrocele had more severe psychosocial problems than physical ones. Severity levels assessed by medical experts were lower than those reported by sufferers. These findings indicate that LF has considerable impact on the physical, mental and social domains of health. Morbidity management programmes should be broadened to include counselling, rehabilitation and health education to manage the psychosocial problems caused by LF.