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Epilepsia. 2002 Dec;43(12):1583-9.

New Zealand community attitudes toward people with epilepsy.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand.



International surveys on knowledge and attitudes toward people with epilepsy suggest that public opinion is improving in many countries. This study aimed to discover how New Zealand compared with other countries, and how subgroups within the New Zealand population compared with each other, by conducting a survey of community knowledge and attitudes toward epilepsy.


Telephone interviews were conducted on a random sample of 400 persons older than 17 years, drawn from a mid-sized provincial town and its hinterland.


Ninety-five percent of respondents had heard or read about epilepsy; 73% knew someone with epilepsy; and 67% had seen an epileptic seizure. Somewhat less knowledgeable were young people, the less educated, lower socioeconomic status (SES), and those of Maori or non-European ethnicity. Attitudes toward people with epilepsy were favorable, with only 5% objecting to their child marrying a person who sometimes had seizures. Less-positive attitudes were found among some older people.


Compared with those in other Western countries, New Zealanders are well informed about epilepsy, and their attitudes toward it are mainly positive. Continuing public education about epilepsy is still necessary, especially among the young, the non-European, and older people.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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