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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Reaction to epilepsy in the workplace.

PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to determine the characteristics of epilepsy that produce avoidant behavior in the workplace and therefore contribute to the actual stigma that persons with epilepsy are subjected to on the job. METHODS: We developed a survey consisting three vignettes briefly describing a coworker with either depression, multiple sclerosis, or epilepsy. Each vignette was followed by eight identical questions addressing the level of comfort during interactions with the vignette subject. The epilepsy vignette did not describe a seizure. The surveys were hand-distributed in two companies in New York City and returned anonymously by mail. The results of the responses to each illness were compared by chi2, and the responses were correlated with demographic information by using Pearson's correlation. RESULTS: Seventy-four of 200 distributed questionnaires were returned. Respondents reported more anxiety at the thought of interacting with a coworker with epilepsy than with depression or multiple sclerosis, but this difference did not reach significance. Worry about sudden, unpredictable behavior for the coworker with epilepsy was significantly greater than that with multiple sclerosis (p = 0.014). The level of comfort regarding providing first aid for the coworker with epilepsy was significantly less (p = 0.018) than that for depression and multiple sclerosis. Lower job level and lower income level correlated with more social discomfort for all three illnesses. CONCLUSIONS: The idea of a having a coworker with epilepsy may produce some social avoidance. However, the worry about a sudden, unpredictable event and the discomfort regarding providing first aid for a coworker with epilepsy is significant when compared with that with depression or multiple sclerosis. These findings suggest that education about first aid for epilepsy will reduce the worry and discomfort surrounding persons with epilepsy in the workplace.[1]


  1. Reaction to epilepsy in the workplace. Harden, C.L., Kossoy, A., Vera, S., Nikolov, B. Epilepsia (2004) [Pubmed]
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