Dealing with epilepsy: Parents speak up

Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
Epilepsy & Behavior (Impact Factor: 2.26). 08/2008; 13(1):131-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2008.03.008
Source: PubMed


In this study, focus groups were used to examine parents' attitudes toward mental health services, use of mental health and other services, as well as service-related and other challenges encountered by parents of children with epilepsy. Both quantitative and qualitative analytic approaches were used to analyze the transcripts of 36 parents grouped into six focus groups by socioeconomic status (SES) (high, low) and ethnicity (African-American, Caucasian, Hispanic). The quantitative analyses demonstrated that, irrespective of SES and ethnicity, the parents were highly aware of their children's behavioral, emotional, and cognitive difficulties and the lack of knowledge about epilepsy among medical, educational, and mental health professionals. The higher-SES parents were significantly more concerned about inadequate educational services and the need for medical services, but less concerned about mental health and medical service use than the lower-SES parents. Insufficient knowledge about epilepsy and about services, parent emotional difficulties, and use of educational services differed significantly by ethnicity. The qualitative analyses highlighted the parents' concerns regarding misconceptions about epilepsy and the stigma toward mental health care among the African-American and Hispanic parents. These findings suggest the need for accessible and better-quality mental health, educational, and medical services for children with epilepsy irrespective of SES and ethnicity. They also underscore the importance of educating parents, service providers, and the general public about epilepsy.

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