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Review Article

Impact of Childhood Epilepsy on the Family

Kerim Fazlıoğlu, Çiçek Hocaoğlu, F. Müjgan Sönmez.

Cited by (5)

Whole family is affected when an illness appears in the family or when there is an uncertainty regarding the health of a member. Symptoms, therapy, course of the disorder, constraint of the daily activities and long term effects of childhood chronic diseases deeply impact health and structure of the families. Diagnosis of a chronic disease in children presents as a significant psychological and psychosocial risk factor to the parents and other family members. Despite these known facts, psychosocial problems of parents of epileptic children are often ignored and not even questioned. These parents frequently have to leave their jobs or ask for their elderly relatives to look after their children. This situation could lead to major financial and social problems, weakening in intrafamilial communication and disruption in family harmony. Childhood epilepsy brings a great strain on family’s resources as other chronic diseases do and alter the life of significant others. According to biopsychosocial model, schemas in family relations influence the psychological process of the family members while the biopsychosocial process of the sick individual affect the functionality of the family. In other words, epilepsy affects not only the sick individual but also the family union. The family has to face many problems after definite diagnosis of epilepsy. Majority of the studies conducted on this issue mainly focused on the quality of life and family relations of the sick child, whereas only a few studies searched for possible burden and resulting problems of family members caused by epilepsy. Physicians in charge should not only focus on physical and mental health of the sick children but also on the problems of other members in the family bearing in mind psychosocial influences of the disorder on them. Additionally, preventive methods should be administered to protect the family from developing mental health problems. A multidiscipline training program aiming to provide social and psychiatric support would increase the awareness of the families about their coping system with the disease and thus revise their likely dysfunctional approaches.

Key words: Epilepsy, Child, Family Functioning, Anxiety, Coping Skills

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