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Epilepsia. 2001 Jan;42(1):86-93.

Changes in public attitudes toward epilepsy in Hungary: results of surveys conducted in 1994 and 2000.

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National Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology, Epilepsy Center, Budapest, Hungary.


Our study investigated public attitudes toward epilepsy, and knowledge and understanding of epilepsy in Hungary. We compared changes of public attitudes in the last six years, hypothesizing a trend of positive changes because of recent national initiatives for acceptance and integration of people with epilepsy (e.g., participation of Hungary in the "Out of the Shadows" world campaign). We also studied how the demographic background of the respondents affects awareness, understanding, and attitudes toward epilepsy. Using a questionnaire design, we conducted a public opinion poll with a representative sample of 1,000 people in 1994 and 6 years later, in 2000. Hungarian respondents were most prejudiced regarding employment of people with epilepsy. In recent years, significant decreases in prejudice rates were found regarding all attitude aspects (marriage, children associating, work). Significant background effects of demographic variables were also apparent: differences by age, education, residence, and family status were found. Some culture-specific characteristics of understanding epilepsy could be observed. Significant positive attitude changes from 1994 to 2000 confirm the need for and potentialities of education of the public and informational initiatives. Demographic influences and culture-specific characteristics could be of relevance in designing public education for different target groups.

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