Illness perceptions of health care workers in relation to epileptic and psychogenic nonepileptic seizures

Epilepsy Behav. 2011 Apr;20(4):668-73. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2011.01.029. Epub 2011 Mar 25.


Illness perceptions of health care professionals are likely to affect patient care. This study describes the illness perceptions of two groups of health care staff toward epilepsy and psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES). Sixty-one health care professionals (30 emergency care [EC] and 31 neuroscience ward [NW] staff) who regularly see patients with seizures completed the adapted Illness Perception Questionnaire-Revised (IPQ-R) and the Symptom Attribution Question for epilepsy and PNES. Respondents reported a poorer understanding of PNES than of epilepsy (P<0.001), thought epilepsy was a more chronic condition (P=0.001/P<0.001) and that patients with PNES had more "personal control" of their seizures (P=0.014/P<0.001). Staff from both departments identified psychological causes as most important for PNES (P<0.001). EC staff also attributed PNES to behavioral issues or alcohol. The Illness Perception Questionnaire-Revised and Symptom Attribution Question demonstrated important differences in attitudes of health care staff toward epilepsy and PNES. The findings illustrate why some patients with PNES have traumatic encounters with health care professionals.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adult
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy / complications*
  • Epilepsy / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Personnel / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Perception / physiology*
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / complications*
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / psychology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Videotape Recording
  • Young Adult