Summary, originally published in Epilepsia Open
Objective: Self-stigma is the internalization of negative public attitudes and is often experienced by patients with epilepsy (PWE). Greater self-stigma is associated with lower self-esteem and hinders therapeutic behavior. The study aims were to develop an Epilepsy Self-Stigma Scale (ESSS) to assess self-stigma in PWE, and to examine the scale’s reliability and validity.
Methods: We created a test scale based on items from an existing stigma scale and the results of a previous qualitative analysis we conducted. We recruited 200 outpatients from departments specializing in epilepsy (psychiatry, neurology, and pediatric neurology) at four facilities in Tokyo and Saitama prefecture, Japan, between September and December 2020. Participants also completed the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES) and Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II).
Results: Questionnaires were returned from 102 participants (response rate: 51%). After excluding two participants with incomplete questionnaires, data for 100 participants were analyzed (53 women, 47 men; mean age [standard deviation]: 39.86 [17.45] years). Exploratory factor analysis extracted eight items loading on three factors: Internalization of stigma, Societal incomprehension, and Confidentiality. Cronbach’s ? for all items and each factor demonstrated acceptable internal consistency (? = 0.76–0.87). Test–retest reliability was confirmed using data from 21 participants who completed the scale twice (r = 0.72 to 0.90). ESSS total scores and subscale scores correlated with RSES and BDI-II scores (r = ?0.30 to 0.55). The ESSS demonstrated substantial constructive validity. However, total scores did not significantly correlate with objective physician assessment of self-stigma.
Significance: The results showed that the eight-item Epilepsy Self-Stigma Scale has high reliability and validity. This scale could facilitate the examination of factors associated with self-stigma in people with epilepsy, which could inform the development of effective interventions for reducing stigma.