Racial/ethnic disparities in the treatment of epilepsy: what do we know? What do we need to know?

Epilepsy Behav. 2006 Sep;9(2):243-64. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2006.05.011. Epub 2006 Jul 12.


We examine current understanding of the minority disadvantage in the clinical management of epilepsy. We performed an online literature search using several keywords (race, ethnicity, epilepsy, treatment, and quality of life) and identified additional literature through cross-referencing/manual search. The search produced 58 items published between 1977 and 2005. Of 49 original research studies, 38 were quantitative, 7 were qualitative, and 4 used mixed methods. Three or more articles were published in Epilepsia, Epilepsy &Behavior, Epilepsy Research, Neurology, and Seizure. Research concerning racial/ethnic differences in epilepsy treatment is scarce and limited by methodology, but suggests underutilization of state-of-the-art therapies by minorities. Racial/ethnic minorities also appear to have limited knowledge about epilepsy and its treatment, experience barriers to care, lack social support, and seek alternative therapies for epilepsy. We propose a framework to identify the array of disparities, points of intervention, and interventions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health
  • Culture*
  • Epilepsy / ethnology*
  • Epilepsy / therapy*
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Minority Groups
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • United States