Subject to sudden seizures, epileptics are often discriminated against, as employers fear that stressful situations might bring on an attack. But a new Tel Aviv University (TAU) study indicates these fears are groundless.
New findings show that occupational stress has no effect at all on the incidence of epilepsy attacks.
The research also gives physicians and employers important information to assess the health and safety of prospective employees who suffer from the disease.
It especially benefits those who have been seizure-free for a long period of time, because indicators show they are likely to stay seizure-free.
"People are prejudiced against epileptics, who learn how to hide their condition very well," said Shlomo Moshe of TAU's Sackler Faculty of Medicine. "It becomes a problem when they're trying to get work, because most employers avoid hiring epileptics. But occupational physicians have been asking for years, 'What are the real risks?' Our new study provides the answer."
Moshe's study surveyed over 300,000 people with no history of epilepsy and compared them to a sample of 16,000 epileptics.
The last major study to investigate the risk of occupational stress on epilepsy was based on a sample size of only 200 people, making this new TAU study a first in medical history.
With such a large sample size, Moshe is able to predict with high levels of certainty when and whether seizures might strike. This will reassure those with the disease, as well as the employers and insurance companies who provide health coverage for them.
Over a period of three years, the researchers in the Israeli study compared the rate of seizures to the types of duties each group of subjects was assigned to perform - manual labour, combat fighting, or office work, said a TAU release.
According to the Epilepsy Foundation, more than three million Americans suffer from epilepsy and 200,000 new cases are diagnosed every year. One in 10 adults will have a seizure sometime in their lifetime.
These findings were reported in Epilepsia.