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Acta Médica Costarricense

On-line version ISSN 0001-6002Print version ISSN 0001-6012


RIVERA-CHAVARRIA, Ana; SANCHEZ-HERNANDEZ, Germana  and  ESPINOZA-AGUIRRE, Azálea. Impact of Hansen’s disease on relatives of patients in Costa Rica. Acta méd. costarric [online]. 2021, vol.63, n.1, pp.5-13. ISSN 0001-6002.


Family transmission of Hansen’s disease is a well-established fact; although transmissibilityis low, intra-household contacts of untreated sick people are a high-riskgroup. The objective of the study was to identify common sociodemographic, cultural,and clinical characteristics in family groups with a history of Hansen’s disease, as an input to improve leprosy treatment.


A qualitative study was conducted, using the technique of semi-structured indepth interviews, based on an interview guide developed, and taking as reference sociodemographic, social, and cultural factors related to diagnosis and treatment. Twenty-five adults between 23 and 88 years of age, of both sexes, serviced by the Costa Rican public health system were selected. Genograms were used to identify family members with a history of the disease.


The study showed that 12 participants came from 3 family groups; two groups with three generations affected. The participants were diagnosed at economically active ages of life. In addition, they were engaged in manual occupations, with low educational levels and the Christian religion. At the time of the interview, they were aware of the family history. The clinical presentation in the three family groups was lepromatous leprosy. One case of spousal leprosy was identified, and one 15-year-old female participant was diagnosed.


The study identified common sociodemographic, cultural, and clinicalcharacteristics of family groups, which showed the need to strengthen contact surveillance in families with new cases.

Keywords : Leproso; prevention; family relationships; Costa Rica.

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