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Epilepsia. 1997 Jun;38(6):716-22.

Comparative epidemiology of epilepsy in Pakistan and Turkey: population-based studies using identical protocols.

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Department of Neurology, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, Karachi, Pakistan.



To determine comparative prevalence rates, demographics, phenomenology, seizure classification, presumptive etiology, treatment status, and selected socioanthropological aspects of epilepsy in Pakistan and Turkey.


A population-based, cross-cultural comparative study of epilepsy was designed with identical protocols to be performed simultaneously in Pakistan and Turkey. The essential feature of the design was an unselected population, with reference to their previous medical contact, and use of standardized International Community-Based Epilepsy Research Group (ICBERG) protocols to assess cross-cultural differences.


In all, 24,130 persons in Pakistan and 11,497 persons in Turkey (both urban and rural, of all ages and both sexes) were studied. The crude prevalence rate of epilepsy was 9.98 in 1,000 in Pakistan and 7.0 in 1,000 in Turkey (14.8 in 1,000 in rural and 7.4 in 1,000 in urban areas of Pakistan; 8.8 in 1,000 in rural and 4.5 in 1,000 in urban areas of Turkey). In both countries, epilepsy was twice as prevalent in rural areas than in urban areas. Mean age of onset of epilepsy was 13.3 years in Pakistan and 12.9 years in Turkey. Overall frequency of seizure types was similar in both countries, with no urban/rural differences. The frequency distribution in Pakistan and Turkey, respectively, was as follows; generalized tonic-clonic, 80.5 and 65.4%; simple partial, 5 and 7.4%; complex partial, 5 and 12.3%; generalized absence, 0.8 and 4.9%; tonic and atonic, 5.8 and 3.7% each; and myoclonic, 5.8 and 1.2%. A putative cause for the epilepsy could be attributed in 38.4% of cases in Pakistan and 35.7% of cases in Turkey. Only 3% of patients in Pakistan, but 71% of patients in Turkey, believed that their illness was due to supernatural causes. The treatment status was very poor. In Pakistan, 27.5% of people with epilepsy in urban areas and 1.9% of people with epilepsy in rural areas were receiving antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) at the time of the survey. In, Turkey 30% of patients were receiving AEDs (marginally higher in rural areas).


The prevalence of epilepsy is slightly higher in Pakistan than in Turkey; some marginal differences in age and sex distribution, are not statistically significant. The results are comparable to those in Ecuador, where the same epidemiologic protocol was used.

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