Introduction: Leprosy is an infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae (M. leprae) that causes a complex problem. Stress can trigger several physiological responses, including the endocrine, nervous, and immune systems. In leprosy patients, stimulation in the form of infection and cytokine secretion lasts a long time, causing adrenal exhaustion, resulting in decreased serum cortisol production. This study aims to determine the correlation between the stress scale and cortisol levels in leprosy patients.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional analytic correlation study with a consecutive sampling method. The research subjects were obtained from the Dermatology and Venereology Polyclinic of Universitas Sumatera Utara Hospital and the Dermatology and Venereology Polyclinic of Dr. Pirngadi Hospital Medan from March until November 2020. The research variables consisted of a stress scale and cortisol levels. Data analysis using the Spearman test. P-value <0.05 was significant. The study was conducted after approval from the Ethics Committee Faculty of Medicine, Universitas Sumatra Utara.
Result: A total of 35 patients enrolled in the study, the majority had characteristics of the male gender, multibacillary type of leprosy, duration of leprosy in the group > 12 months, with a median age of 36 (19 - 79) years. The mean stress scale was 15.17 ± 6.3, with the mild stress scale was the most common. The median cortisol levels were 9.5 (4 – 20,8) g/dl, which was still in the low category. The lowest median cortisol levels were found in the multibacillary type of leprosy, duration of leprosy in the group > 12 months, and severe stress scale. There was a significant moderate negative correlation between the stress scale and cortisol levels in leprosy patients (p = 0.017; r = -0.402).
Conclusion: The heavier the stress scale, the lower the cortisol levels in leprosy patients.