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UK health professionals "need to know" about treatments for South Asians with epilepsy

10 Feb 2005

professionals in the UK who deal with people with epilepsy in the South
Asian communities should know about the religious and complimentary
treatments that many people with the condition use, according to a
study in the British Journal of General Practice.

The research, commissioned and funded by Epilepsy Action and undertaken by the Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust,
looked at epilepsy amongst members of the Muslim, Sikh and Hindu
communities of Bradford and Leeds and talked to doctors, neurologists,
nurses and other medical staff.

study found that around half of the members of the communities
interviewed believed that their epilepsy was either "fate", the will of
God or punishment for sins in a previous life. People with epilepsy in
these communities were often urged by their family to seek religious
treatments for their condition when Western medicine was perceived to
have failed. A number of people also experienced prejudice from others
who believed that epilepsy was contagious.

authors, led by Hanif Ismail, concluded that health professionals
should be aware of the belief systems of these patients and understand
the types of treatments in common use.

They commented:

these treatments might potentially compete with Western health care,
they are used as an adjunct rather than a substitute. Patients have a
'healthy' scepticism about the effectiveness of such treatments, and
adherence to medical therapy does not appear to be affected."