Does the presence of a specialist doctor reduce the burden of disease in people with epilepsy in low-resource settings? A comparison of two epilepsy clinics in rural Tanzania

Ana Klein, Toni Christoph Berger, Alexander Hapfelmeier, Matthias Schaffert, William Matuja, Erich Schmutzhard, Andrea S. Winkler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: With an estimated lifetime prevalence of epilepsy of 7.6 per 1,000 people, epilepsy represents one of the most common neurological disorders worldwide, with the majority of people with epilepsy (PWE) living in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). Adequately treated, up to 70 % of PWE will become seizure-free, however, as many as 85% of PWE worldwide, mostly from LMICs, do not receive adequate treatment. Objective: To assess the impact of the presence of a neurologist on the management of PWE in Tanzania. Methods: Two epilepsy clinics in rural Tanzania, one continuously attended by a neurologist, and one mainly attended by nurses with training in epilepsy and supervised intermittently by specialist doctors (neurologists/psychiatrists) were comparatively analyzed by multivariable linear and logistic regression models with regard to the outcome parameters seizure frequency, the occurrence of side effects of antiepileptic medication and days lost after a seizure. Results: The presence of a neurologist significantly reduced the mean number of seizures patients experienced per month by 4.49 seizures (p < 0.01) while leading to an increase in the occurrence of reported side effects (OR: 2.15, p = 0.02). Conclusion: The presence of a neurologist may play a substantial role in reducing the burden of the disease of PWE in LMICs. Hence, specialist training should be encouraged, and relevant context-specific infrastructure established.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109030
JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
Volume139
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2023

Keywords

  • Epilepsy
  • LMIC
  • PWE

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