An Assesment of the Prevalent Use of Alternative Therapy and the Types of Alternative Therapy used by Patients Living with Epilepsy who Attend the Neurology Clinic at Kenyatta National Hospital
Background: Epilepsy is the most common neurological disorder worldwide. There is an increase in prevalence and incidence in the developing world. Use of alternative therapies among patients with epilepsy is high. The use of alternative therapies may have negative impact on the control of seizures. Various factors have been put forward to influence the use of alternative therapies. The magnitude of the problem is unstudied in our setup. Objective: To determine the magnitude and factors associated with the use of alternative therapy among patients with epilepsy attending neurology clinic at Kenyatta national hospital. Study design: This was a cross-sectional descriptive study. Setting: This was done at the Neurology clinic of Kenyatta National Hospital, Nairobi-Kenya Materials and Methods: Files of patients with epilepsy were examined prior to the beginning of the clinic each day of the clinic. Consecutive sampling method was used to obtain a sample of ten patients with epilepsy every day of the clinic. The selected patients were informed about the study and were requested to sign the informed consent form. Quantitative and qualitative methods using semi-structured questionnaire were used to collect the data. The questionnaire was administered by the interviewer. Patients who reported of using alternative therapies were further subjected for in-depth interviews. The semi-structured open ended questions with probes were administered to the patients individually to ascertain factors for use of alternative therapies and the responses were recorded on the sheet and tape recorded by the interviewer. Results One hundred and seventeen patients participated in the study, nineteen (16.2%) were found to be using alternative therapies on top of conventional therapies to treat epilepsy. Most of the patients who use alternative therapies 79% use local African herbs, 15.8% use spiritual healing and 5.3% use Chinese herbs. Lack of improvement on conventional treatment of epilepsy was reported to be the main reason for patients to resort to alternative therapies (57.9%) The decision to use alternative therapies was made by parents in most of the patients (68.4%) Use of alternative therapies was not significantly associated with socio-demographic factors. Moreover use of alternative therapies was not significantly associated with seizure type (p-value 0.427) Conclusion There is high prevalence of alternative therapy use by patients with epilepsy. Optimization of conventional therapy for epilepsy is paramount to control the seizures and reduce the magnitude of use of alternative therapies.