April 19, 2021

Stigma Experienced by Patients With Epilepsy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Synthesis of Qualitative Studies

Abstract, originally published in Epilepsy & Behavior

Background: Epilepsy, one of the most common and serious chronic neurological diseases, is accompanied by a series of complex psychosocial problems. A number of qualitative studies have investigated the stigma experiences among patients with epilepsy (PWE). However, the findings are different and complementary to a certain degree. We conducted a systematic review to investigate and synthesize existing qualitative research findings to fully identify stigma experienced by PWE. The aim was to develop anti-stigma interventions and reduce any adverse sequelae.

Objective: To synthesize qualitative evidence on the stigma experiences of PWE.

Methods: This was a systematic review and qualitative evidence synthesis guided by the Joanna Briggs Methodology. Systematic literature search for primary studies was conducted in PubMed, PsychINFO, EMBASE, and Web of Science databases until December 2019. Findings from the included qualitative studies were extracted, assessed for quality, and aggregated using meta-synthesis.

Results: Twenty-six studies were included in the review. Four distinct synthesized findings were identified from the original researches: ‘stigma experienced in daily life’; ‘stigma perceived from others’; ‘psychological reactions to stigma’; and ‘strategies to address stigma’.

Conclusion: The present meta-synthesis thoroughly investigated the stigma experienced by PWE. The findings suggest that appropriate multi-level interventions targeting the general public, health professionals, caregivers, and patients themselves are warranted to reduce the harmful impacts of stigma.