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October 2021

West Afr J Med. 1997 Jul-Sep; 16(3): 139-45.

Epilepsy: knowledge, attitude and practice in literate urban population, Accra, Ghana.

Nyame PK, Biritwum RB.

Department of Community Health, Ghana Medical School, Accra.

A cross sectional survey was conducted among Government workers and the general public in Accra, Ghana. A total of 380 persons were interviewed. Almost everybody could describe accurately, an epileptic person. However, 172 (45.3%) out of the 380 respondents did not know the cause of epilepsy, and 37.6% did not know how it could be treated. Out of the 358 responses to the cause of epilepsy, 114 (31.8%) said it was inherited disease, 100 (27.9%) said it was due to witchcraft/juju or spiritual. With respect to treatment, 150 out of 333 responses mentioned sending the individual to the medical doctor, 95 (28.5%) said the use of herbs/visits to fetish priest, 59 (17.7%) suggested prayers, 20 (6.0%) said to do nothing. For prevention, 77 (29.1%) out of 319 responses indicated prayers, 49 (15.45%) cautioned marrying into epileptic family, and 13 (4.1%) responses indicated not to touch patient fitting. Those who answered "don't know" regarding knowledge about epilepsy were mostly the young, the lower educational status and the single respondents. However, the most important characteristic of the respondent that was associated with the appropriateness of the responses was the educational status. Although a lot of misconceptions about epilepsy existed in the study population, e.g. epilepsy can be spread by contact and that epileptics must be isolated or avoided, several respondents would share a room, eat or employ persons with epilepsy. The study has shown that the traditional beliefs and attitudes about epilepsy are still held firmly by the adult working population and that the educational level of the respondent was positively related to the appropriateness of the responses. It is therefore suggested that additional efforts must be made to increase the knowledge of the general population through the use of social marketing strategies in order to improve the management of persons with epilepsy.

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