WhatsApp-based support group likely to improve the situation of epilepsy patients

Better adherence to therapy, less frequent hospital stays, and improved quality of life are three results that British researchers hope to see from people with epilepsy joining together to form virtual support groups over WhatsApp. A current study is investigating possible positive effects of the instant messaging service among 300 affected individuals. It was discussed at the Second Congress of the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) in Copenhagen.

A WhatsApp group was formed for the study. People with epilepsy are welcome to post as much or as little as they wish. Sensitive issues from the everyday life of participants can also be discussed; for instance, how to deal with stigmatisation at work. Over a period of six weeks, the researchers are monitoring the degree of involvement of the various individuals in the group. Researchers are also examining whether there is a positive effect from additional interpersonal contact and increased involvement. Study author Dr Heather Angus-Leppan from the Royal Free Hospital London, UK: “Based on current findings, we expect to see intensive personal communication improve the patients’ adherence to therapy by 20 percent, lower the frequency of their stays in the hospital and improve their quality of life by 10 per cent.”  Studies indicate that individuals suffering from chronic diseases benefit a great deal from mutually sharing their experiences. Yet people with epilepsy in particular often have difficulty finding active support groups nearby. “Networking and mutual support through instant messaging services such as WhatsApp can be a practical and affordable alternative in these cases,” Dr Angus-Leppan noted.

Source: EAN 2016 Abstract Angus-Leppan H et al, Mobile phone based micro-personalised support groups in people with epilepsy

European Academy of Neurology – Press Office
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