People with epilepsy are at significantly higher risk of experiencing discrimination due to health problems than the general population, find researchers. This risk is greater for them than those with other chronic health problems such as diabetes, asthma and migraines.
People with epilepsy also had a greater likelihood of experiencing domestic violence and sexual abuse than the general population, according to the study published in the journal Epilepsia.
‘People with epilepsy were sevenfold more likely to have reported experiencing discrimination due to health problems than the general population without epilepsy.’
The analysis also found that such psychosocial adversities could help explain why individuals with epilepsy are at an increased risk of developing depression and anxiety disorders.
"We still don't know enough about why people with epilepsy develop depression and anxiety disorders much more often than the general population. Our findings suggest that adverse life events such as discrimination may be important," said senior author Dheeraj Rai from University of Bristol in Britain.
For the study, the researchers used data from the the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2007 that included comprehensive interviews with 7,403 individuals living in private residences in England. Doctor-diagnosed epilepsy and other chronic conditions were established by self-report.
Discrimination, domestic violence, physical and sexual abuse, and other stressful life events were assessed using computerised self-completion and a face-to-face interview, respectively. The researchers found that people with epilepsy were sevenfold more likely to have reported experiencing discrimination due to health problems than the general population without epilepsy.
"This paper demonstrates that despite all of the advances made over the last 100 years, the experience of discrimination continues to be a significant problem for people with epilepsy," first author of the study Victoria Nimmo-Smith from University of Bristol said.