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Singapore Med J. 2013 Feb;54(2):82-5.

Bell's palsy in Singapore: a view from the patient's perspective.

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Department of Otolaryngology, Changi General Hospital, 2 Simei Street 3, Singapore.



Bell's palsy is a well-recognised disease with robust research on its possible aetiologies and epidemiology, but scant information on patients' concerns and concepts regarding the condition is available. We aimed to evaluate the ideas, concerns and expectations of patients with Bell's palsy in Singapore.


A cross-sectional study was conducted at a single tertiary-care hospital in Singapore. Participants were all patients with newly diagnosed Bell's palsy referred to the otolaryngology department either from the emergency department or by general practitioners. Participants were given a self-administered questionnaire and their facial nerve palsies were graded by the consultant doctor.


A total of 52 patients were recruited, of which 41 were available for analysis. 78.0% of patients were concerned that they were having a stroke upon presentation of the symptoms. Other beliefs about the cause of the disease included overwork or stress (36.6%), something that the patient had eaten (9.8%) and supernatural forces (2.4%). About 50% of patients had tried some form of complementary or alternative therapy other than the steroids/medicines prescribed by their general practitioner or emergency physician. While 39.0% of patients agreed that the Internet had helped them understand more about their condition in addition to the information provided by the physician, 9.8% of them specifically disagreed with this statement.


We have found that patients with Bell's palsy in Singapore are not very knowledgeable about the disease. Although the Internet is a useful resource, a physician's explanation of the disease and its natural progression remains of utmost importance.

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