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Clinical Cases and Reviews in Epilepsy

Knowledge and attitudes toward epilepsy in Italy: past and present surveys and comparisons with worldwide reports

Review article, 103 - 106
doi: 10.11138/ccre/2016.1.2.103
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Abstract
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Knowledge about epilepsy seems to be improved with time but negative attitudes are still reported in several developing and also in developed countries.
This review revised Italian studies and compared their findings with published reports from other countries. The selected studies included representative samples of the Italian population, teachers and scholars of primary, middle and high schools, and university students. Door-to-door investigations, questionnaires in schools and nationwide telephone interviews were the methods used to obtain the information. General knowledge of epilepsy was investigated with questions about cause, symptoms, diagnosis and therapy; for attitudes, questions focused on the social and individual implications of epilepsy (driving, marriage, having children, sport, job, military service). Special attention was paid to school-related attitudes. In Italy, knowledge and attitudes are fairly satisfactory but vary with public’s education, age and gender. University students or graduated people were more educated about epilepsy and teachers were more aware about the disease than the general population. These findings are in keeping with some reports from developing countries but contrast with several others where ignorance and prejudice strongly justify persisting stigma. Knowledge about epilepsy seems to be improved worldwide comparing older and recent studies, probably due to the greater availability of information on the disease, but further programs of education are needed to modify some negative attitudes that still persist because of prejudice and stigmatizing behaviors.

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