Understanding of and attitudes toward epilepsy among the urban Chinese population in Malaysia

S. S. Hasan, Y. K S Alen, W. G W Wayne, K. Ahmadi, M. Anwar, G. K. Goh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: People with epilepsy are socially discriminated against on the grounds of widespread negative public attitudes, misunderstandings and defensive behaviour. The primary purpose of this study was to evaluate the public understanding of and attitudes toward epilepsy among the Chinese population in Malaysia. 

Methods: A validated, self-administered questionnaire comprising 23 questions was utilised to evaluate the understanding of and attitudes toward epilepsy among randomly approached respondents from the Chinese population living in the urban areas of Penang, Klang Valley, Kuala Lumpur and Sibu in Malaysia. 

Results: Out of 1,000 people approached, 697 (69.7 percent) respondents agreed to participate in the study. When asked whether people with epilepsy are slow learners and have intellectual functioning below normal, 448 (64.3 percent) respondents answered 'no'. This positive answer was mainly provided by female (35.6 percent) as compared to male (28.6 percent) respondents. Moreover, more than half responded positively to the following statements: people with epilepsy should not be isolated from the normal population; epileptics can perform daily activities; epileptics can receive academic education; and epileptics can become useful members of society. In addition, significant associations were discovered between the education level of the respondents and several statements, including whether epileptics are as intelligent as everyone else (p-value is 0.009), whether epilepsy can be treated with drugs (p-value is 0.037) and whether epileptics can be as successful as other people in their chosen career (p-value is 0.009). Positive responses were mainly acquired from those with secondary education and above. A large number of the respondents felt that people with epilepsy should not be employed as lorry drivers, firefighters, doctors and army personnel. 

Conclusion: The general Chinese population in the urban areas of Malaysia had, at the time of the investigation, a relatively high level of understanding and positive attitudes toward certain aspects of epilepsy, although a minority of the study population demonstrated prejudice and discriminatory behaviours toward people with epilepsy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)290-299
Number of pages10
JournalSingapore Medical Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010
Externally publishedYes


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