Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública
On-line version ISSN 1680-5348
Print version ISSN 1020-4989
LI, Li Min et al. Managing epilepsy in the primary care network in Brazil: are health professionals prepared?. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2005, vol.18, n.4-5, pp.296-302. ISSN 1680-5348. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49892005000900010.
OBJECTIVE: To assess attitudes and beliefs concerning epilepsy held by physicians and allied health professionals who work in the primary care network in Brazil. METHODS: The data were collected during a national family and community medicine conference held in Rio de Janeiro in 2004, which was attended by 1 200 health professionals from throughout the country. Two questionnaires were used, one for physicians and another for nonphysician health workers. RESULTS: A total of 598 conference participants (345 physicians and 253 nonphysician health professionals) completed a questionnaire. Both the physicians and the nonphysician health professionals had acceptable personal attitudes towards persons with epilepsy.According to data from 286 physicians who provided information, the estimated mean percentage of individuals with epilepsy in the populations cared for by the physicians' health care systems in the preceding year was 0.78% (range, 0 to 8%; median = 0.37%). The estimated mean percentage of seizure-free patients was 60%. The estimated mean percentage of persons on monotherapy was 55%. The estimated mean percentage of referrals to a neurologist was 59%. The estimated mean percentage of patients who were working or studying was 56%. Of the 345 physicians, 252 of them (73%) reported not feeling confident about managing individuals with epilepsy, whereas 84 (24%) felt confident, and 9 (3%) were not sure. Of the 252 physicians who did not feel confident, 226 (90%) said that they would participate in a training program to improve the quality of the care provided to individuals with epilepsy. CONCLUSIONS: The professionals participating in the study indicated that the primary care system has the essential elements needed to provide comprehensive epilepsy care, including professional personnel who want to improve their skills. However, establishing an efficient, effective program of epilepsy management in the primary care network will require an effective referral network, regular distribution of antiepileptic drugs, the close monitoring of epilepsy management by using the federal primary health information system, and the ongoing education of health professionals, with emphasis on psychological support and the inclusion in society of individuals with epilepsy.
Keywords : Epilepsy; attitude of health personnel; stereotyping; Brazil.