Misconception about epilepsy, pharmacist led educational program

Virtual Special Editions are collections of targeted papers curated by a Guest Editor. Here Dr Unyime Eshiet, University of Uyo, Nigeria (author of the Editor’s Choice article in Volume 69) talks about the misconception about epilepsy.

Misconception about epilepsy, ignorance that the condition is treatable, as well as the associated stigmatisation, negatively affect the quality of life of people living with epilepsy.

Irrespective of socio-demographic variables such as age, educational background and even duration of epilepsy, many patients with epilepsy lack sufficient knowledge about their condition. They are generally not sufficiently informed about their condition and as such are unaware of the types of seizure, its causes, common seizure triggers and indications for antiepileptic drug therapy. These patients often have negative attitudes regarding their condition that predisposes them to accepting the unfounded myths and beliefs about the condition. These negative attitudes can be changed by ensuring that patients have adequate understanding of their condition, Suitable education and counselling interventions can improve the knowledge of patients with epilepsy. With proper educational interventions, these patients are less likely to become victims of other people’s beliefs, myths and misconceptions. Education and counselling interventions produce significant improvements in long-term control of epileptic seizures. Research has shown that there is a direct relationship between patients’ knowledge of their medical condition and their ability to cope with the condition.

Patients’ illness perception influences their psychological response to the illness and by extension their ability to cope with the condition, including self-care measures. Illness perception has been reported to be associated with vital health outcomes of the patient, including quality of life. Negative illness perceptions has been associated with a slower rate of recovery and increased patient disability irrespective of the initial clinical severity of the condition. Cognitive behavioural interventions developed to change patients’ illness perceptions has been reported to significantly change patients’ illness beliefs during their treatment leading to a faster rate of recovery. Hence, cognitive based interventions can be used to change negative illness perceptions of patients with epilepsy. Generally, patients do not express their illness beliefs or perception during clinical interactions with their healthcare providers. Unfortunately, the patients’ illness beliefs and perception are not often sought by healthcare providers during medical interviews. This is an important aspect of clinical clerkship that should not be ignored. Information regarding the patient’s illness beliefs will help identify gaps in knowledge that can be filled by healthcare providers via education and counseling interventions.

In our study titled “The efficacy of a pharmacist implemented educational treatment programme for people with epilepsy: A report of a randomised controlled trial”, we assessed the knowledge and perception of patients with epilepsy regarding their condition and evaluated the efficacy of a pharmacist implemented educational treatment programme in improving patients’ knowledge and perception of epilepsy. The study was conducted in two medical referral centers in Nigeria. Our findings showed that Pharmacist led educational intervention improved patients’ knowledge and perception of epilepsy, thus revealing the potential positive impact of pharmacists’ involvement in the management of epilepsy.