Parents' understanding of the causes and management of their children's epilepsy in Khayelitsha, Cape Town

Keikelame M.J. ; Swartz L. (2007)


This article shares the findings of a study done In Khayelitsha, a perl-urban township in Cape Town. The study explored what parents understood as the cause of their children's epilepsy and how they managed the condition. The objective was to provide information that may be used to inform the design of appropriate health promotion interventions to address the problem. Twelve parents of children with epilepsy were interviewed through a semi-structured interview schedule, Most participants did not know the cause of their children's epilepsy. The known medical causes were meningitis, tumour, and heredity, Evil spirits (amafufunyane) and bewitchment were reported by some participants as the cause of their children's epilepsy. Major findings were the lack of understanding of the correct use of seizure medication, the appropriate use of first aid measures, the importance of disclosing the condition, and regular check-up. Some participants reported having used traditional and Western treatment. Although the study findings cannot be generalised, they highlight potential implications for collaborative approaches to address epilepsy. These approaches should empower children with epilepsy and their carers through supportive health promotion interventions that address contextual factors impacting on the problem as a 'whole', There is also probably a need for training health care workers in epilepsy care and management. Further research is needed to investigate the difficulties encountered by children with epilepsy at school. © Psychological Society of South Africa. All rights reserved.

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