Talking about epilepsy: Challenges parents face when communicating with their child about epilepsy and epilepsy-related issues

  • O'Toole S
  • Lambert V
  • Gallagher P
 et al. 
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Abstract

The aim of this qualitative study was to explore the challenges that parents of children with epilepsy experienced when engaging in dialog with their child about epilepsy and epilepsy-related issues. Using a qualitative exploratory approach, interviews were conducted with 34 parents of children with epilepsy (aged 6-16 years), consisting of 27 mothers and 7 fathers. Data were transcribed verbatim and thematically analyzed.Findings revealed five main themes: normalizing epilepsy, the invisibility of epilepsy, information concealment, fear of misinforming the child, and difficulty in discussing particular epilepsy-related issues. Many of the communicative challenges experienced by parents impacted on their ability to engage openly in parent-child dialog about epilepsy in the home.Parents face specific challenges when choosing to communicate with their child about epilepsy, relating to creating a sense of normality, reducing fear of causing their child worry, and having a lack of epilepsy-related knowledge. Healthcare professionals who work closely with families living with epilepsy should remain mindful of the importance of discussing family communication surrounding epilepsy and the challenges parents of children with epilepsy face when talking about epilepsy within the home.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Chronic illness
  • Communication
  • Epilepsy
  • Family
  • Qualitative methods

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Authors

  • Stephanie O'Toole

  • Veronica Lambert

  • Pamela Gallagher

  • Amre Shahwan

  • Joan K. Austin

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