PSYCHO-SOCIAL PROBLEMS OF NIGERIAN SCHOOL CHILDREN WITH EPILEPSY

  • OO Famuyiwa Department of Psychiatry, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, P.M.B. 12003, Lagos, Nigeria
  • OO Matti Department of Psychiatry, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, P.M.B. 12003, Lagos, Nigeria

Abstract

We conducted a standardised evaluation of mothers reporting on 174 Nigerian school children with epileptic disorders (predominantly of the grand mal type) and brief child interviews. A mean of 20.3% reported psychosocial difficulties across a range of psychological difficulties. Contrary to the findings in the Western literature, there was tendency for more psychosocial difficulties to be encountered by girls than boys. This finding seemed explicable more in terms of socio-cultural sex role expectations and attitudes rather than biological factors. The most common psychosocial difficulties were difficulties associated with school adjustment, interpersonal relationships and medical therapy, and perceived depression. Cost and availability of anti-epileptic drugs was a notable problem, which suggests that relatively inexpensive drugs such as phenobarbital and phenytoin should be prescribed. Family size, frequency of seizures and duration of epilepsy did not significantly influence the psychosocial problems profile of epileptic children as a group. However, first-born epileptics and those with onset of the recurrent seizures prior to their second birthday were at risk of experiencing significant psychological problems. We advocate exploration of psychosocial difficulties in the routine clinical assessment of epileptic children.

Southern African Jnl Child and Adolescent Mental Health Vol.14(2) 2002: 107-114
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eISSN: 1728-0591
print ISSN: 1728-0583