Perceived stigma and school attendance among children and adolescents with epilepsy in South Western Uganda
Background: Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that has a high worldwide prevalence with eighty percent of the global burden being in low and middle-income countries. There is a high level of perceived stigma among children and adolescents with epi- lepsy, which has severe debilitating effects and affects school attendance.
Objective: To assess the effect of perceived stigma on school attendance patterns among children and adolescents with epilepsy.
Methods: We conducted a cross sectional study among 191 children and adolescents aged from 6-18 years with epilepsy at one large semi-urban hospital and a small rural health center in SouthWestern Uganda. Epilepsy-related perceived stigma was measured using the adapted Kilifi Stigma Scale of Epilepsy and school attendance patterns were assessed using a piloted inves- tigator-designed questionnaire.
Results: Children with high-perceived stigma were more likely to have never attended school (13.8%) or started school late (average age 5.7 years) compared to those with low-perceived stigma (average age 4.9 years). Additionally, those with high epilep- sy-related perceived stigma repeated classes 2.5 times more compared to those with low-perceived stigma.
Conclusion: These preliminary findings suggest correlation between high-perceived stigma and disrupted school attendance patterns among children and adolescents with epilepsy, hence the need to address this social challenge.
Keywords: Epilepsy; perceived stigma; school attendance; children; adolescents; Uganda.
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