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A review of ‘medical’ knowledge of epilepsy amongst isiZulu-speaking patients at a regional hospital in KwaZulu-Natal

Zamir A. Gilani, Kantharuben Naidoo, Andrew Ross

African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine; Vol 7, No 1 (2015), 6 pages. doi: 10.4102/phcfm.v7i1.789

Submitted: 24 October 2014
Published:  08 July 2015


Background: Epilepsy is a common disorder in South Africa and the literature indicates that many patients do not access treatment. The reasons are complex and include a poor knowledge about causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment (medical knowledge). This study aimed to assess the medical knowledge of isiZulu-speaking people with epilepsy (PWE) who attend a combination regional and district hospital in the eThekwini district in KwaZulu-Natal Province.

Method: This was a prospective, cross-sectional, descriptive study. Data were collected using a validated data collection tool for assessing the medical knowledge of PWE and analysed descriptively.

Results: The questionnaires were completed by 199 PWE, with the general level of schooling being low and half being unemployed. Knowledge around causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatments was good, but there were significant gaps in knowledge that may affect morbidity and mortality.

Discussion: The findings will serve as a useful guide to develop both preventive and educational interventions to enhance knowledge around the causes and treatment of epilepsy in this population. It is important that such interventions also consider family and healthcare providers.

Conclusion: There were considerable gaps in the medical knowledge of isiZulu-speaking PWE’s, indicating the need for an educational intervention to improve their understanding of epilepsy. Further research is needed-using a range of tools to ensure that the data is reliable and valid–if the results are to be generalisable to the rest of the province and South Africa.

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Author affiliations

Zamir A. Gilani, Department of Family Medicine, Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital, South Africa
Kantharuben Naidoo, Department of Family Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Andrew Ross, Department of Family Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa


People with epilepsy; medical knowledge; isiZulu speaking; regional hospital; South Africa.


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ISSN: 2071-2928 (print) | ISSN: 2071-2936 (online)

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