Hospital-based epilepsy care in Uganda: A prospective study of three major public referral hospitals

Epilepsy Behav. 2021 Jan;114(Pt B):107301. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2020.107301. Epub 2020 Aug 27.


Objective: This study sets out to describe the current demographics of people with epilepsy (PWE) attending hospital-based care in Uganda and the epilepsy treatment practices within three of the largest Ugandan public referral hospitals.

Methods: In a six-month prospective cohort study, 626 children and adults attending epilepsy clinics at Mulago National Referral Hospital, Butabika National Referral Mental Hospital and Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital were enrolled. Using a study questionnaire, data were collected at baseline and at 3 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months following enrollment. Specific data surrounding individual patient demographics, clinical characteristics and severity of epilepsy, and treatment of epilepsy with antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) were collected.

Results: Female patients totaled to 50.8%, with a nearly equal gender distribution at each hospital. There was no statistical difference in gender or age between sites. The majority of PWE had completed primary school, with less than 15% of patients completing more than a secondary education. Seizure severity was high, with most patients having multiple seizures per week at the initial onset of epilepsy, and greater than 90% of patients reporting a loss of consciousness with seizures. The majority of patients (54.95%) also reported a developmental or learning delay. Most patients were on 1 AED (46.01%) or 2 AEDs (36.90%), with carbamazepine being the most frequently prescribed AED. There was a trend towards improved seizure severity over the follow-up period, as assessed by the corresponding Personal Impact of Epilepsy Scale (PIES) subscale.

Conclusions: People with epilepsy attending hospital-based care in Uganda tend to have severe forms of epilepsy requiring management with AEDs. Current hospital-based practices show a positive trend for seizure burden and quality of life of PWE in Uganda. Further interventions to improve overall access to biomedical care are required to continue to advance the management of PWE across all communities. This article is part of the Special Issue "The Intersection of Culture, Resources, and Disease: Epilepsy Care in Uganda".

Keywords: Epilepsy; PIES; Treatment gap; Uganda.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Epilepsy* / drug therapy
  • Epilepsy* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life*
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Uganda / epidemiology


  • Anticonvulsants