ABSTRACT: Childhood epilepsy causes multiple stressors, difficulty in adjustment, and disruptions in family relations. This study sought to identify stressors of caregivers of school-age children and to assess whether use of community resources alleviates or contributes to caregiver stress. Stressors refer to concern about the child, communication with healthcare providers, changes in family relationships, interaction with school, and support within the community. A caregiver refers to the person who had looked after the child for the past 6-12 months. Support groups, religious or worship groups, counseling services, and traditional and spiritual faith healers were the community resources that were addressed. Face-to-face interviews were conducted on a convenience sample of 46 caregivers. A three-part structured interview schedule was used to describe demographic data, stressors of caregivers, and use of community resources. The top 6 stressors were the inability to get antiepileptic drugs, the deep pain or sadness caused by the child's seizures, caregiving (which was predominantly by mothers), limited help from the extended family, inadequate information on side effects of drugs, and inadequate information on seizures. The most commonly used community resource was religious or worship groups, with epilepsy support groups being least used. To alleviate caregiver stress, it is important that healthcare providers routinely assess the effect of seizures on caregivers and refer those requiring counseling, advocate for more male and extended family involvement in caregiving and provide adequate information on side effects of drugs and on seizures as standard practice. Nurses in developed countries should incorporate religious activities among complementary and alternative medicine interventions to reduce caregiver stress. Spiritual faith healers should be encouraged to refer clients with epilepsy for drug therapy and counseling.
Questions or comments about this article may be directed to Gladys Saburi, MSN RN, at firstname.lastname@example.org. She is the chairman of the Department of Nursing Science, College of Health Sciences, University of Zimbabwe, Avondale, Harare, Zimbabwe.