Epilepsy misconceptions and stigma reduction interventions in sub-Saharan Africa, a systematic review

Publication date: August 2018Source:Epilepsy & Behavior, Volume 85
Author(s): Mark Kaddumukasa, Martin N. Kaddumukasa, William Buwembo, Ian G. Munabi, Carol Blixen, Samden Lhatoo, Nelson Sewankambo, Elly Katabira, Martha Sajatovic
ObjectiveThis systematic review identified papers that described epilepsy misconceptions or stigma in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and research interventions focused on reducing these misconceptions.Materials and methodsPublications in the English language from January 2000 to October 2017 that described original research conducted in SSA on misconceptions about epilepsy were utilized.ResultsTwenty-three publications were identified. Studies were from Nigeria (N = 4), Cameroon (N = 4), Uganda (N = 3), Zambia (N = 2), Ethiopia (N = 2), Tanzania (N = 2), Kenya (N = 2), Ghana, Zimbabwe, Benin, and Mali (N = 1 each). The studies included assessments of misconceptions among healthcare providers and medical students (N = 3), high school students (N = 2), teachers (N = 2), the general public (N = 10), people with epilepsy (N = 7), and traditional healers (N = 1). Only two studies had stigma-focused interventions. Majority of the studies reported limitations to socialization with people with epilepsy and various beliefs associated with epilepsy.ConclusionsEpilepsy misconceptions, stigmatizing cultural beliefs, and perceptions were widely prevalent in SSA, and there are a few studies targeting epilepsy stigma. Existing stigma-reduction educational approaches may be impractical for general population implementation. Scalable approaches to reduce stigma are urgently needed within SSA.