Social integration of children with epilepsy in rural India

Type Working Paper - Social science & medicine
Title Social integration of children with epilepsy in rural India
Volume 54
Issue 12
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2002
Page numbers 1867-1874
Only a small fraction of people with epilepsy in developing countries has access to medical facilities. Even with effective treatment, their psychosocial needs are often overlooked in the absence of obvious disability. In rural areas, community-based rehabilitation programmes assist in the integration of people with disabilities into employment and the community. However, the functional impairment associated with epilepsy is not well recognised in intervention programmes in developing countries. We report, for the first time, the social activities of children with epilepsy and their peers in rural India. We employed a cross-sectional design using a new age and sex-specific social activity questionnaire. Population screening in the context of a community-based rehabilitation programme identified 88 children with epilepsy and 250 randomly selected controls. A trained interviewer administered the questionnaire to mothers in Bengali. Girls’ activities were principally domestic, whilst boys’ were mostly outdoors and involved peers. All groups of children with epilepsy had significant social deficits, equally for boys and girls in the age range from 2 to 18 years (p<0.05). Boys with epilepsy had limited peer group activities, and parents conferred fewer responsibilities to school age and adolescent children compared to controls. The nature and degree of deficits were beyond the constraints imposed by neurological impairment. Our findings in pre-schoolers were consistent with parental attitudes of overprotection found in previous research. We conclude that social integration needs active and early promotion among children with epilepsy. The assessment of remediable risk and protective factors in the family and community is an important practical area for research in community-based rehabilitation

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