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Epilepsy Behav. 2005 Sep;7(2):259-65.

Qué es la Epilepsia? Attitudes and knowledge of epilepsy by Spanish-speaking adults in the United States.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Scottsdale, AZ, USA.



Spanish-speaking adults are the largest minority population group in the United States and are disproportionately afflicted by epilepsy.


A unique 78-item survey instrument conducted entirely in Spanish and devoted to the topic of epilepsy was administered to 760 Spanish-speaking adults in seven large U.S. Hispanic metropolitan areas representing a cross section of the U.S. Hispanic community. The answers were compared with those of 272 non-Hispanic controls administered the same survey in English in June 2004.


The Hispanic sample correlated well with U.S. Census data. Spanish-speaking adults are mostly unaware about epilepsy, with 21% reporting no familiarity with the condition (P=0.0001). The vast majority of Hispanics use the term convulsiones or ataque to describe a seizure. Thirteen percent of Hispanics with less than high school education believe that epilepsy is contagious (P=0.0001); 8% see "sins" as a cause of seizures (P=0.0001); and 10% agree that "exorcism" would be a good remedy (P=0.002).


There is considerable misinformation about epilepsy in the U.S. Hispanic community. Neurologists must be made aware of U.S. Hispanic attitudes and beliefs regarding epilepsy to provide culturally competent care.

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