Women’s experiences with epilepsy treatment in southern India: A focused ethnography

Jane R. von Gaudecker, Ann Gill Taylor, Janice M. Buelow, Sailas Benjamin, Claire B. Draucker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Women with epilepsy in rural southern India often do not receive anti-epilepsy drugs (AEDs) or take these drugs regularly, but little is known about how they experience the epilepsy treatment they do receive. The purpose of this study was to provide an in-depth description of the treatment experiences of women in this region who had been diagnosed with epilepsy but who do not consistently take AEDs. Focused ethnography was conducted using participant observation and in-depth interviews with six women with epilepsy, eight of their family members, and two traditional healers. The women’s treatment experiences are best described as living at the intersection of Western allopathic (“English”) medicine and traditional healing practices—approaches that could be complementary or conflicting. The women revealed a variety of perceived barriers to the use of “English” medicine. Health care professionals should appreciate the dynamic interplay of the two treatment approaches and consider all cultural, social, and economic factors that influence the women’s treatment experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3
Pages (from-to)1034-1051
Number of pages18
JournalQualitative Report
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019


  • Barriers to treatment
  • Epilepsy treatment gap
  • Ethnography
  • Indigenous health care
  • South India
  • Treatment decision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Education

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