University of Limerick
Egan_2012_epilepsy.pdf (590 kB)

Disclosure of epilepsy in young adult friendships

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posted on 2013-06-14, 11:15 authored by Karen Egan
Discussions of disclosure within epilepsy academic literature focus primarily on the chosen targets and motivations for disclosing epilepsy. This current study contributes to the literature by describing the process of peer disclosure as reported by young adults with epilepsy. Semistructured interviews were completed with eight young adults (18-25) with epilepsy recruited from a local epilepsy organisation. Thematic analysis yielded four main themes connected to the process in disclosure of epilepsy: (1) Assessing the disclosure recipient, (2) Managing the presentation of epilepsy, (3) Forging alliances and (4) Feeling more positive. The research indicated that for these young adults the process of disclosure centres on their need to recruit support in the form of ‘alliances’ to help them manage the physical and psychological implications of living with epilepsy. This motivation was reflected in the participants’ process of selecting a recipient; primarily choosing those they perceived to be reliable and trustworthy. It was also reflected in their disclosure messages; they were careful to construe epilepsy as non-invasive as possible so as to bolster their commitment to the role. The results indicated that as a result of engaging in this process participants felt safer, happier and more in control of their condition. However, it also revealed that disclosure was often impeded by concerns about gaining a stigmatised social identity. Considering the benefits of disclosing on the wellbeing of these participants, and the theoretical understanding occupational therapy has on the relationship between social engagement and wellness, it is argued that occupational therapists should play a more active role in promoting disclosure in this population. One practical way occupational therapists can do this is by setting up peer-mentoring programmes that promote the development of a positive collective identity within existing epilepsy organisations so that these youths feel less susceptible to feelings of stigma.



  • Master (Research)

First supervisor

Salmon, Nancy





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