Past and present public knowledge and attitudes toward epilepsy in Italy

Oriano Mecarelli, Giuseppe Capovilla, Antonino Romeo, Guido Rubboli, Paolo Tinuper, Ettore Beghi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A nationwide survey was performed in Italy to assess awareness and attitudes of the public about epilepsy. Knowledge about epilepsy, its clinical features, and attitudes towards its social/individual implications were tested in a telephone interview. Included were 819 women and 737 men aged 18+. years. 93.4% declared they knew epilepsy, 56.6% knew a person with epilepsy, and 45.1% saw someone seizing. Only 29.2% gave an exact estimate of the prevalence of the disease. 50.4% were unaware of the causes, 56.1% indicated that epilepsy was a psychological/psychiatric disease, 36.5% a form of insanity, and 4.1% an evil spirit possession. Epilepsy was incurable according to 35.5%. Moderate-to-severe restrictions to driving, regular employment, military career, and leisure activities were suggested by 79.8, 57.0, 71.1, and 57.6%. Limitations included marriage and procreation for 46.2 and 38.7%. Knowledge and attitudes varied with education, age and gender. These findings are partly in keeping with other worldwide reports.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-115
Number of pages6
JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - May 2010


  • Attitudes
  • Awareness
  • Epilepsy
  • Italy
  • Knowledge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Neurology
  • Medicine(all)


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