Healthcare provider perspectives regarding epilepsy care in Uganda.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

OBJECTIVE: Epilepsy is the most common chronic neurological disorder in the world and imposes a large economic burden on global healthcare systems, especially in low-income settings and rural areas as is found in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Despite the high epilepsy prevalence, there are no systematic descriptions of healthcare provider (HCP) perceptions and needs in managing people with epilepsy (PWE) in Uganda. Identifying these perceptions and needs is crucial for understanding community priorities, thereby enhancing the development of culturally sensitive communications, interventions, and research approaches. METHODS: In this qualitative study, we used semistructured interview guides to conduct focus group discussions that explored the perspectives of 32 providers of epilepsy care from health facilities around Mbarara, Uganda. Our sample included nonspecialized general physicians (n = 3), medical residents (n = 8), medical clinical officers (n = 3), psychiatric clinical nurses (n = 6), medical nurses and nursing assistants (n = 9), and other providers (n = 3), who were loosely grouped into discussion groups based on level or type of training. Self-assessed proficiency ratings were also administered to gain a better understanding of participants' confidence in their training, preparedness, and capabilities regarding epilepsy care. Thematic analysis of the focus group transcripts was conducted to ascertain commonly occurring themes about perceptions and challenges in epilepsy care. RESULTS: Our analyses identified nine major themes that dominated the perspectives of the study participants: care management, medications, diagnostics, HCP training, human resources, location, patient education, social support, and community knowledge and beliefs. Proficiency ratings prioritized areas of confidence as knowledge related to referrals, psychosocial impacts, and seizure neurophysiology. Areas of need were revealed as knowledge of diagnostic tools and antiepileptic drug (AED) regimens. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings delineate the perspectives of providers caring for PWE, with consistent recognition of challenges centering around resource augmentation, infrastructure strengthening, and education. Participants emphasized the urgent need to augment these resources to address limitations in medication types and access, trained human resources, and diagnostic tools. They overwhelmingly recognized the need for infrastructure strengthening to address human, diagnostic, medicinal, and capital resource limitations that place undue burden on patients with epilepsy and physicians. Providers indicated a clear desire to learn more about different diagnostic tools and medical management practices, potentially through continuing education, specialized training, or more intentional in-school diagnostic preparation. They also advocated for the powerful influence of patient and family education and clearly articulated the need for community sensitization and support. This article is part of the Special Issue "The Intersection of Culture, Resources, and Disease: Epilepsy Care in Uganda".

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Koltai, DC; Smith, CE; Cai, GY; Ratliff, O; Kakooza-Mwesige, A; Najjuma, JN; Muhindo, R; Rukundo, GZ; Teuwen, DE; Kayanja, A; Kalubi, P; Haglund, MM; Fuller, AT

Published Date

  • January 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 114 / Pt B

Start / End Page

  • 107294 -

PubMed ID

  • 32763023

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1525-5069

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.yebeh.2020.107294


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States