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360 Social impact on lower limb disability among urban community dwelling residents in Sri Lanka
  1. Inoka Eranganie Weerasinghe1,2,
  2. Pushpa Fonseka3,
  3. Samath Dharmaratne4,
  4. Sumedha Jayatilake4
  1. 1Ministry of Health, Sri Lanka
  2. 2Johns Hopkins Centre for Injury Research and Policy, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA
  3. 3University of Sri Jayawardanapura, Sri Lanka
  4. 4University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka


Background Social impact refers to changes in the ways in which people live, work, relate to one another, organise to meet their needs and their cultural norms and beliefs. Disability is often a perception created by social environment. Therefore, physically disabled people are more vulnerable and suffer more due to societal prejudices than due to health conditions. Present study explored the social impact due to limb disability in terms of attitudes among a group of city dwelling residents in Sri Lanka.

Methods A qualitative research was conducted using in-depth interviews to extract data on social impact associated with unilateral limb disability in year 2012. A sample of persons with unilateral lower limb disability (n = 12) were selected from a major study to assess the physical disability in a selected population in central Sri Lanka. An interviewer guide prepared on a conceptual framework was used to extract information from in-depth interviews.

Results People had different attitudes and behaviours towards the limb disabled. Participants described several enacted, perceived and internalised stigma experiences such as being criticised and isolated by the community, health providers, friends and relatives as well as denial of access to education and meaningful work roles. Some people helped and consoled the limb disabled. Some participants had feelings of discrimination by the society especially in conditions of disfigurement. Non acceptance of the social sympathy on one’s disability status was demonstrated by several participants. Lack of safety and accessibility facilities confined them to their residential facilities.

Conclusions Implementation of safety and accessibility facilities, community awareness programmes and improvement of social attitudes associated with limb disability depending on the age, gender and education are necessary for Sri Lanka.

  • limb disability
  • social impact
  • safety
  • Sri Lanka

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