Epilepsy in Laos: knowledge, attitudes, and practices in the community

Epilepsy Behav. 2007 Jun;10(4):565-70. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2007.02.018. Epub 2007 Apr 18.


Objective: We evaluated beliefs about, attitudes toward, and stigma associated with epilepsy in four districts of central Laos.

Method: For this study, 83 people with epilepsy, 83 family members, and 166 matched villagers in Vientiane Province were interviewed.

Results: From patients to families to villagers, there existed a significantly increasing gradient of misbeliefs. Dubbed locally as "mad pig disease," epilepsy was viewed as having a supernatural origin by 25-42% of respondents, a life-threatening disease by 60%, a disease transmissible by consumption of pork meat by 10-21%, and a disease transmissible by contact with patients' saliva by 14.5% of patients and 44% of villagers (P<0.01). Stigma was high. People thought that they should avoid contact or sharing meals with patients (15% of patients, 62% of family members, P<0.001), and that persons with epilepsy should not get a job, get married (29 and 42%, P<0.016), or raise children (33-42%).

Conclusion: Wrong beliefs may lead to stigma and hamper access to or compliance with modern epilepsy treatment. In traditional countries, education is the cornerstone of epilepsy management.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Data Collection
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Epilepsy / epidemiology
  • Epilepsy / psychology*
  • Epilepsy / therapy
  • Female
  • First Aid
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Laos / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Seizures / therapy