The experiences of people living with epilepsy in developing countries: a systematic review of qualitative evidence
Background: Epilepsy is a global public health problem affecting people of all ages, sex, races, nations and social class. The majority of the 50 million people with epilepsy live in developing countries, with a prevalence rate of five to 10 people per 1000. The disease poses an enormous psychological, social and economic burden on patients. An estimated 90% of people with epilepsy in developing countries do not receive treatment due to sociocultural, economic and political factors. Current treatment interventions are limited to the clinical management of the disease and are largely driven by the healthcare provider's perspective, ignoring the experiences of people living with epilepsy (PLWE).
Objective: The aim of this review was to identify, critically appraise, extract, synthesize and present the best and most current available evidence on the experiences of PLWE in developing countries.
Search strategy: A three-step search strategy was used to identify published and unpublished studies in the English language from the 1990s to the present.
Conclusion: People living with epilepsy attribute the cause of the disease to agents like fever, demonic power and witchcraft. Patients use biomedical and traditional methods to treat the disease and have also developed various coping strategies (like prayers and concealment) alongside treatment. Epilepsy has negative effects on the social relationships of patients and is a social, psychological and economic burden for patients. However, there are some positive effects like the social support they receive from family members, friends and the community.