Author(s): TekleHaimanot R, Abebe M, Forsgren L, GebreMariam A, Heijbel J,
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Abstract In the farming community of the sub-district of Meskan and Mareko in central Ethiopia, where the prevalence of epilepsy is known to be 5.2/1000, a door-to-door survey was undertaken in 1546 sampled households to find out public attitudes to epilepsy. Nearly 64\% of the respondents were in the age group of 14-50 years, and 58.6\% were women. The majority (86\%) were illiterate, and 94\% had incomes of a subsistence level; 89\% had heard or witnessed seizures. Traditional views on the association of evil spirits and superstition was prevalent. By 45\% of the interviewees, the disease was believed to be contagious through physical contacts during an attack. Although there was sympathetic concern in the community for the person suffering from epilepsy, negative attitudes were strong on matrimonial associations, sharing of accommodation and physical contacts with affected persons, particularly when there were obvious signs and frequent attacks by seizures. The study demonstrates that the rural community has very poor knowledge of the causes and nature of epilepsy, and this has resulted in social deprivations and at times, rejection of the sufferers.
This article was published in Soc Sci Med
and referenced in Journal of Psychiatry