The poor knowledge of epilepsy among traditional healers is due to cultural prejudices and environment. The resultant deep-rooted misconceptions and myths negatively affect the attitudes and encourage traditional care with high morbidity and mortality. The objectives of the study were to assess knowledge of epilepsy among traditional healers and to determine the modalities used in the care. One hundred and seventy three traditional healers from villages/communities in Uyo were assessed for knowledge; attitude and perception of epilepsy, using an interviewer assisted Attitude Questionnaire. Data from 166 (95.9%) healers, consisting of 123 (71.1%) males and 43 (24.8%) females were analyzed. Many of the healers, 139 (83.7%) had little or no formal education. Knowledge about causes, diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy was poor; 74 (44.6%) attributed the cause of epilepsy to witchcraft, 53 (31.9%) to spiritual attacks, 23 (13.9%) punishment for sins. A total of 121 (72%) of them diagnosed epilepsy through oracles/gods. Majority, 161 (97.0%) of the healers preferred native treatment; 54 (32.5%) appeased gods/ancestors, 47 (28.3%) used herbs, roots/animal residues as cure, 10 (6.0%) preferred spiritual/prayers; while 48 (28.9%) used a combination of the rituals. There were prevalent negative attitudes and perception about epilepsy among the healers, as 146 (88.0%) of them viewed it as contagious; 149 (89.8%) would decline either marrying or eating with epileptic persons. Although traditional healers are frequently involved in the care of epilepsy in our environment, they have little or no scientific knowledge about the condition. Adequate knowledge about epilepsy is essential for diagnosis and treatment. Therefore, there is need to improve the knowledge about epilepsy in order to encourage positive attitudes and care.
KEY WORDS: Knowledge; Attitude; Perception; Epilepsy; Traditional healer.