Teen Survey

Teen Survey on Epilepsy Foundation of Alabama
Report of Findings October 2001

Introduction:


This report presents the results of a study conducted by the Epilepsy Foundation to evaluate teen awareness about epilepsy, and to gain a better understanding of their knowledge, attitudes and perceptions about epilepsy and people with epilepsy.

The questionnaire for the study was designed by the Epilepsy Foundation. Respondents were asked about their awareness of epilepsy, their knowledge about the health condition, stigmas associated with epilepsy and their awareness of several health conditions. A series of questions was also asked to gather demographic characteristics.

The 2-page survey was distributed to teens nationwide by 20 affiliates of the Epilepsy Foundation from March 2001 through July 2001 in schools selected by the affiliates. This report presents the results of the Southern Alabama affiliate, for which 1802 valid surveys were collected. Mathew Greenwald & Associates, Inc. edited the surveys and performed the data entry. Greenwald & Associates was also responsible for the tabulation, analysis and reporting of the data. The data were weighted by age and region to reflect national percentages.

Of seven diseases or disorders mentioned, teens are least familiar with epilepsy. More than two-thirds (68 percent) are either "not too familiar" or "not at all familiar" with epilepsy and only 8 percent are "very familiar."  Only about half of the teens (52 percent) surveyed have ever heard of or read about epilepsy.

The following are some key findings that were gathered in a national survey conducted in 2001:

  • Of seven diseases or disorders mentioned, teens are least familiar with epilepsy. More than two-thirds (68 percent) are either "not too familiar" or "not at all familiar" with epilepsy and only 8 percent are "very familiar."  
  • Only about half of the teens (52 percent) surveyed have ever heard of or read about epilepsy.
  • Due to a lack of knowledge about this disorder, most teens do not fear epilepsy. Fear is higher among teens that know more about epilepsy.
  • The majority of teens surveyed do not know about the specific nature of epilepsy.  For example, they do not know if it is contagious, if it is a mental illness, whether doctors know its cause, or if people die by having seizures.
  • Teenagers are mostly unclear about the levels of stigma associated with epilepsy. One third (37 percent) however, did view kids with epilepsy as more likely to be bullied or picked on by peers.
  • Teens are unable to describe how epilepsy can impact lifestyle. The biggest misconceptions involve people with epilepsy and driving. One in five surveyed think people with epilepsy cannot drive cars and only 32 percent know that most can drive.
  • Two-thirds (67 percent) of teens responded that they would not or probably not know what to do if someone had a seizure.
  • Awareness and understanding of epilepsy tends to be higher among girls, older students, and white students.