An evaluation of the impact of health worker and patient education on the care and compliance of patients with epilepsy in Zimbabwe

Epilepsia. 1999 Apr;40(4):507-11. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1157.1999.tb00749.x.


Purpose: The use of primary health care personnel to identify cases of epilepsy and initiate simple treatment protocols has been advocated as a solution to the numeric inadequacy and uneven distribution of medical manpower available for the management of epilepsy in developing countries. This study sought to evaluate the effectiveness of primary health care nurses in the diagnosis and management of epilepsy, as well as the impact of patient-information pamphlets on drug compliance and clinic attendance of patients with epilepsy.

Methods: Primary health care workers from 24 clinics in the Zvimba district in Zimbabwe attended a workshop to improving their knowledge in the diagnosis and management of generalized tonic-clonic seizures. Half of these clinics (experimental group) subsequently received patient-information pamphlets for distribution to patients and relatives, whereas the other half (control group) did not. Frequency of clinic attendance, mean seizure frequencies, and mean serum levels of phenobarbitone were compared at baseline and at 6 months after intervention in patients within each group, and at 6 months after intervention between both groups.

Results: Community health worker education led to a 74% increase in patient recruitment as well as a marked improvement in patient drug compliance over the 6-month study period. The use of patient-information pamphlets led to a marked reduction in patient default from clinic follow-up, but did not appear to influence drug compliance or seizure frequency.

Conclusions: The benefits of these simple and inexpensive interventions make a strong case for their widespread implementation for improved epilepsy care not only in Zimbabwe, but also in other developing countries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use
  • Community Health Workers / standards*
  • Developing Countries*
  • Epilepsy / drug therapy*
  • Epilepsy / epidemiology
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Health Education / methods
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pamphlets
  • Patient Compliance
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Primary Nursing / standards*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Zimbabwe / epidemiology


  • Anticonvulsants