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December 2022

Epilepsia. 1993 Nov-Dec; 34(6): 1017-23.

Knowledge, attitude, and practice toward epilepsy among rural Tanzanian residents.

Rwiza HT, Matuja WB, Kilonzo GP, Haule J, Mbena P, Mwang'ombola R, Jilek-Aall L.

Department of Internal Medicine, Muhimbili University College of Health Sciences, Tanzania, Dar es Salaam.

Before a health education program can be established, one must first know what the target population believes and does with respect to the disease in question. Therefore, we performed a study among Tanzanian rural inhabitants to identify their knowledge, attitude, and practice (KAP) toward epilepsy: 3,256 heads of households (mean age 40.2 years, range 15-90 years; M/F ratio 1:1) were interviewed. Of the respondents, 32.9% said they had never seen a seizure; 67.7% said they did not know the cause of epilepsy; 33.3% mentioned various causes including heredity, witchcraft, infection of the spinal cord, hernia; 40.6% believed epilepsy was infectious through physical contact, flatus, breath, excretions, sharing food; 36.8% believed epilepsy could not be cured and 17.1% believed it could not even be controlled; 45.3% believed epilepsy could be treated by traditional healers, and only 50.8% believed hospital drugs were of any use; and 62.7% of the respondents would not allow an epileptic child to go to school for various reasons, including mental subnormality (54.0%), fear of the child falling while alone (65.9%), and fear that the epileptic child would infect other children (11.2%). Concerning what is to be done when a seizure occurs, 33.5% of the respondents would keep away and not touch the person; 16.5% would take some potentially harmful measure such as forcing a mouth gag or forcing a drink such as water (1 even mentioned urine); 5.2% would take unnecessary measures such as rushing the patient to a hospital. Only 35.7% of respondents would perform at least some of the currently recommended first-aid measures.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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