Thursday October 25 5:19 PM ET
"US Survey: Teens Lack Epilepsy Awareness"
US Survey: Teens Lack Epilepsy Awareness
By Charnicia E. Huggins
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Many US teenagers believe their
peers with epilepsy are more likely to get picked on and to be
unpopular, according to the results of a new national survey on
the topic. And the reason may be a lack of education among
young people and general misconceptions about the condition,
The survey results show that "teens that lacked information
about epilepsy engaged in behaviors that were
stigma-producing," Eric R. Hargis, president and CEO of the
Epilepsy Foundation, told Reuters Health.
In light of this, the foundation is mounting a November
"Entitled to Respect" epilepsy awareness campaign that will
Almost half of the more than 19,000 US teenagers surveyed
from March through July 2001 said they had never heard of
epilepsy or read anything about it. While only 4% incorrectly
thought the condition was contagious, another 22% were not sure
if it was contagious and 23% didn't know enough about the
condition to say one way or the other.
What's more, roughly 4 in 10 teens said that they might not
or would not tell their friends if they had epilepsy--a finding
that seems to hint at the social stigma surrounding the
condition, according to the report.
This stigmatization was also evidenced in the finding that
more than 40% of the youth believed that having epilepsy might
or would make them unpopular, and 37% said it would increase
the likelihood of them getting picked on. On the other hand,
11% said they would not date someone with epilepsy and 44% were
unsure whether or not they would date someone with epilepsy.
"In an age of political correctness, stigma and
discrimination have gone underground," Hargis said.
Nearly 7 in 10 respondents, however, and females in
particular, said they would want their friend to tell them if
he or she had epilepsy.
Many teens were also misinformed about the extent to which
epilepsy impacted an individual's lifestyle, survey findings
For example, 40% of survey participants either said they
were not sure if epileptic individuals attend regular schools
or incorrectly responded that they do not attend regular
schools. Only 42% were aware that individuals with epilepsy are
usually able to work and slightly less than one-third knew that
many epileptic individuals are able to drive.
Females and whites were more likely to be informed about
epilepsy than males and individuals of other racial groups,
whereas younger individuals held more misconceptions about the
condition than older teenagers.
Epilepsy is the third most common neurological condition
after stroke and Alzheimer's disease (news - web sites) and is often characterized
by seizures. It affects over 2 million Americans, including
300,000 teenagers, according to the Epilepsy Foundation. In
most cases, its cause is unknown, but it has been known to
result from head trauma, and lead or alcohol poisoning, as well
as from brain tumors and stroke. Treatments include medication,
surgery, a special diet, or electrical stimulation therapy.
For more information about epilepsy or the Entitled to
Respect campaign, contact the Epilepsy Foundation at (800)
332-1000 or visit their Web site at www.entitledtorespect.org.
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