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Disability burden of epilepsy in Türkiye: How does it differ from other newly industrialized countries?

INTRODUCTION: Epilepsy accounts for a substantial part of the global burden of disability. This study aimed to investigate the employment history of people with epilepsy in Türkiye, evaluate the role of education level in employment and epilepsy burden, and compare epilepsy employment data in different societies according to sociodemographic index data.

METHODS: This prospective study included 420 people 16-76 years of age who were diagnosed with epilepsy according to the criteria of the International League Against Epilepsy. Socioeconomic, clinical, and employment data were collected using a questionnaire in face-to-face interviews.

RESULTS: The study sample was 52 % women, the mean age was 34.2 ± 12.7 years (range: 16-76 years), and the mean disease duration was 17.2 ± 12.6 years. Only 26.7 % (n = 112) of the participants were actively working, 38.8 % had never worked, and 64.5 % had changed jobs at least twice (mean 2.45 job changes). The unemployment rate among the study sample was 7 times higher than in the general population. Female gender, low self and parental education levels, high seizure frequency, and the use of multiple anti-seizure medications were significantly associated with lower employment.

CONCLUSION: We determined that the employment rates and education levels of people with epilepsy in Türkiye are low, the unemployment rate is high, and the burden of epilepsy is higher when compared with other low-middle income and newly industrialized countries and national population data. Education and employment opportunities for people with epilepsy in Türkiye should be improved to reduce the burden of epilepsy-related disability and thereby increase quality of life, welfare, and psychosocial well-being in this group.

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