Background: Epileptics are often socially discriminated due to the negative public attitudes, misconceptions and false beliefs. Thus, the main objective of this study was to assess the knowledge and attitudes toward epilepsy among Malaysian Chinese.
Methods: A cross-sectional study by using a 23-item validated, self-administered questionnaire was carried out in urban areas, selected through stratified sampling. A Chinese population was randomly selected in the stratified areas of Penang, Ipoh, Klang valley, and Kuala Lumpur and was asked to complete the questionnaire.
Results: Among 382 (74.6%) respondents, 16.2% believed that epilepsy is a type of mental illness. Majority (90.8%) accepted that epileptics can become useful members of the society however, only 16% agreed to marry them. About 57% of respondents recognised epilepsy as nervous system problem. Significant relationships between education level and statements such as, epileptics are as intelligent as everyone else (p=0.009), epilepsy can be successfully treated with drugs (p=0.037) and epileptics can be successful in their chosen career (p=0.009), were found.
Conclusions: The general Chinese population in the selected areas of peninsular Malaysia had relatively good knowledge and positive attitudes toward certain aspects of epilepsy at the time of the investigation. However, minority of the study participants demonstrated prejudice and discriminatory behaviour towards people with epilepsy.