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Epilepsy Behav. 2011 Aug;21(4):425-9. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2011.05.014. Epub 2011 Jun 25.

Myths, misconceptions, and misunderstandings about epilepsy in a Nigerian rural community: implications for community health interventions.

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Department of Health Policy and Management, Faculty of Public Health, College of Medicine, University College Hospital & University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria.


Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 365 persons without epilepsy. Seventy-four (12%) attributed epilepsy to brain disorder, witchcraft (81.4%), destiny (49.8%), heredity (27.8%), and demonic possession (26.8%). Beliefs about modes of spread included saliva (28.8%), sharing utensils (19.5%), and making fun of a person with epilepsy (12.1%). Traditional medicine was the first preferred treatment option in 80.5% of participants; treatment approaches included herbal preparations (67.7%), spiritual exorcism (33.7%), special cultural diets (29.3%), charms (26.2%), and sacrificial offerings (24.1%). Reasons for preferring traditional treatment included the health facility being too far (86.1%), health personnel not being readily available (83%), and epileptic drugs not being readily available (79.6%). Incorrect local perceptions and cultural beliefs about epilepsy and inadequacies of the modern health care systems in developing countries might jointly contribute to the treatment gap. Local health staff, if appropriately strengthened, could take on additional tasks and bridge the treatment gap. Collaboration between modern and traditional health care systems may also improve treatment accessibility.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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