Perceptions about mental healthcare for people with epilepsy in Africa
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BACKGROUND: Mental illness is commonly comorbid with epilepsy. In sub-Saharan Africa there exists limited access to neurological and psychiatric services predisposing to a "treatment gap" in epilepsy and mental healthcare. AIMS: To understand healthcare providers' knowledge, attitudes, and management practices toward epilepsy and comorbid mental illness in sub-Saharan Africa. METHODS: A cross-sectional online survey following the STROBE guidance was conducted among healthcare providers in sub-Saharan Africa. Eleven questions looking to ascertain clinician demographics, knowledge of epilepsy, and comorbid mental illness as well as management practices were developed. FINDINGS: Of 203 responses most (92%) respondents recognized a bi-directional relationship between mental health and epilepsy. However, mental illness screening in people newly diagnosed with epilepsy was infrequently performed (14%). Only 1 in 7 (16%) respondents had high confidence in their clinical competence at managing psychiatric comorbidities. Most would value further training (74%) and improvements to be made in current management practices within their local healthcare settings (94%). CONCLUSIONS: This pilot study highlights the need to improve the awareness of management of mental disorders in populations with epilepsy within sub-Saharan Africa in health providers there.
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