Original Research

Perceptions of epilepsy among black students at a University in South Africa

K Peltzer
Curationis | Vol 24, No 2 | a833 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/curationis.v24i2.833 | © 2001 K Peltzer | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 September 2001 | Published: 28 September 2001

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K Peltzer, Department of psychology, University of the North, South Africa

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The present study sought to investigate the relationship between familiarity, attitudes, causative and treatment beliefs about epilepsy in a sample of black young adults (university students) in South Africa. The sample included a convenient sample of 253 second year social science students, 98 (38.7%) males and 155 (61.3%) females in the age range from 18 to 42 years (M=25.0 years, (SD=4.2). The questionnaire administered to students in a class room situation included sociodemographic data, and sections on familiarity, beliefs about cause and treatment, sources of information, attitudes about epileptics, and prevention of epilepsy. Results showed that the majority of students, in particular from a rural background, were familiar with epilepsy. Health care institutions were the most important source of information on epilepsy, especially for women. Those who believed in traditional causes of epilepsy also endorsed traditional treatment for it, though they did not see such treatment as curative. Those who believed in a medical treatment did however see such treatment as curative. Although the majority of the students had a positive attitude towards epileptics through sharing a meal or room and willingness to marry an epileptic, 17% thought that epileptics can infect others with their saliva during a seizure, 12% felt an epileptic is a witch or wizard, and about 10% said an epileptic must be isolated. Findings should be included in educational programmes for young adults.


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