Master of Public Health
Background: In Tanzania, about 600,000 children and adolescents between the ages of five and twenty-four years old have a disability. Individuals with disabilities in Tanzania face numerous obstacles due to the social stigma and exclusion they face. The purpose of this formative evaluation is to assess how caregivers of children with correctable disabilities in Tanzania perceive their community’s acceptance of their child before and after surgical treatment.
Methods: A qualitative study was conducted. Interviews from 86 caregivers of children (ages … with disabilities treated at The Plaster House in Arusha, Tanzania were qualitatively analyzed using content analysis to assess for thematic grouping. Interviews assessed for caregivers’ feelings on their child’s medical challenges and experiences of stigma in their community. Caregiver experiences of stigma were categorized as “Positive”, “Neutral”, and “Negative” categories before and after surgical treatment.
Results: Content analysis resulted in five themes: stigma and acceptance (pre-treatment), stigma and acceptance (post-treatment), medical baseline (pre-treatment), medical progress (post-treatment), and emotional impact. These themes indicated that caregivers and their children experienced a range of emotional impacts before and after treatment, more severe stigma before treatment, and overall better medical status after treatment. Frequency analysis of caregiver experiences indicated that negative acceptance/stigma experienced by children and their families decreased from 74.39% before surgical treatment to 1.2% after surgery.
Discussion: Surgical intervention and post-surgical rehabilitation of physical disabilities mitigated experiences of social stigma for both children and their caregivers in their communities. Findings support the development of community-based rehabilitation programs.
Available for download on Tuesday, May 21, 2024