The impact of understanding upon psychosocial functioning and adjustment to childhood epilepsy
Hughes, Steven David
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Research has suggested that knowledge about one's own condition can promote coping skills and adaptation to chronic illness. Of particular relevance to children's adjustment to a chronic condition, and related to their knowledge about their condition, is their developmental stage and beliefs about illness causality. Epilepsy is a common neurological disorder, and has been considered a major risk for the development of psychosocial difficulties. The present study examines what children understand about their epilepsy and how this relates to their age, adjustment, and psychosocial functioning. It involved taking a measure of children's understanding of epilepsy and compares with presence of particular coping strategies, levels of anxiety, self-esteem, attitudes, and adjustment. The relationship of adjustment and parental knowledge of epilepsy was also examined. The study also considers the relevance of the child's age, seizure control, duration of the disorder and IQ in relation to their adjustment. Children between the ages of 7 and 14 were recruited from the Seizure Clinic at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh. The results are discussed with reference to Wallander and Varni's (1989) model of adjustment to chronic illness, as well as previous psychosocial research involving childhood epilepsy. Several suggestions were made regarding clinical practice and further research.