Abstract, originally published in Epilepsy & Behavior
Background: People with epilepsy (PWE) face difficulties in employment. Hong Kong depends heavily on tertiary industry and enjoys a low unemployment rate. However, there have been rare reports on employment of PWE in Hong Kong. We aimed at (1) investigating the employment status among PWE; (2) correlating demographic and clinical factors with employment status of PWE; and (3) describing the self-perceived impact of epilepsy on employment and their correlations with employment status.
Method: This was a single center cross-sectional study conducted in 2019. Adult with epilepsy but without intellectual disability of year age 16-65 were recruited. Homemakers and retired persons were excluded. A questionnaire with two parts was given to each patient. The first part focused on objective data about employment. The second part focused on self-perception on the impact of epilepsy on employment. Responders expressed their opinions in 5-point Likert scale. Clinical data were retrieved from the computerized medical record system for interpretation.
Results: A total of 138 PWE were recruited. Unemployment rate among the PWE was 33%, which was much higher than the general population. Low education levels, drug-resistant epilepsy, psychiatric comorbidities, and high Charlson Comorbidity Index were correlated to unemployment in PWE. Unemployed respondents significantly more tend to regard that lack of education, stigma of epilepsy, and seizure frequency were main hurdles in employment.
Conclusions: Unemployment is a severe social problem among people with epilepsy in Hong Kong. Various objective clinical and demographic factors correlated with unemployment. Work beliefs of a patient may also correlate with the employment status.