Employability among people with uncontrolled seizures: An interpretative phenomenological approach

Epilepsy Behav 2015; 45: 21-30


Wo MC, Lim KS, Choo WY, Tan CT


PURPOSE: This study aimed to explore positive and negative factors affecting the employability in patients with uncontrolled seizures. METHOD: Semistructured interviews with 21 patients with uncontrolled seizures were analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. RESULT: Eleven (52.4%) of the participants interviewed were employed; 7 were holding full-time position with more than 4years of working experience. The mean age was 34.6years, 71.4% were female, 38% were married, 71.4% had at least 11years of education, 38% had a driving license, 19% received government monetary aid, 66.7% had seizure onset before reaching 17years of age, 66.7% experienced monthly seizures, and 76% were on polytherapy. A total of 6 main themes were found to be affecting the employability among people with uncontrolled seizures: (a) ability to work; (b) intention to work; (c) support and stigma at workplace; (d) family support, overdependence, and protection; (e) life event; and (f) government and welfare support. Subthemes under the main theme ability to work included education, cognitive and physical functions, ability to continue working after seizures, ability to travel to work, self-perceived ability to work, and ability to cope with stress. Many shared the same idea that employment is important, but their intention to work varied. The employed group tended to work for a future goal and self-satisfaction, and the unemployed group tended to have no or lack intention to work. Positive factors were noted in the following themes: ability to work; intention to work; support and stigma at workplace; and family support, overdependence, and protection. CONCLUSION: There were internal and external factors affecting the employability among people with uncontrolled seizures both positively and negatively. Positive internal factors such as ability and intention to work require further exploration.


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The Occupational Medicine Clinic is a referral clinic for occupational diseases and is open on every Friday in University Malaya Medical Centre.