Knowledge and beliefs about epilepsy genetics among Hispanic and non-Hispanic patients

Shannon Trujillo, John B. Wetmore, Itzel A. Camarillo, Sylwia Misiewicz, Halie May, Hyunmi Choi, Karolynn Siegel, Wendy K. Chung, Jo C. Phelan, Lawrence H. Yang, Cheng Shiun Leu, Amanda L. Bergner, Ruth Ottman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Hispanics continue to face challenges when trying to access health care, including epilepsy care and genetic-related health care services. This study examined epilepsy genetic knowledge and beliefs in this historically underserved population. Methods: Questionnaires were completed by 641 adults with epilepsy without identified cause, of whom 122 self-identified as Hispanic or Latino and 519 as non-Hispanic. Participants were asked about their views on the contribution of genetics to the cause of their epilepsy (“genetic attribution”), optimism for advancements in epilepsy genetic research (“genetic optimism”), basic genetic knowledge, and epilepsy-specific genetic knowledge. Generalized linear models were used to compare the two groups in the means of quantitative measures and percents answered correctly for individual genetic knowledge items. Analyses were adjusted for age, sex, education, religion, family history of epilepsy, and time since last seizure. Results: Hispanics did not differ from non-Hispanics in genetic attribution, genetic optimism, or number of six basic genetic knowledge items answered correctly. The number of nine epilepsy-specific genetic knowledge items answered correctly was significantly lower for Hispanics than non-Hispanics (adjusted mean = 6.0 vs. 6.7, p <.001). After adjustment for education and other potential mediators, the proportion answered correctly was significantly lower for Hispanics than non-Hispanics for only two items related to family history and penetrance of epilepsy-related genes. Only 54% of Hispanics and 61% of non-Hispanics answered correctly that “If a person has epilepsy, his or her relatives have an increased chance of getting epilepsy.”. Significance: Despite large differences in sociodemographic variables including education, most attitudes and beliefs about genetics were similar in Hispanics and non-Hispanics. Epilepsy-specific genetic knowledge was lower among Hispanics than non-Hispanics, and this difference was mostly mediated by differences in demographic variables. Genetic counseling should address key concepts related to epilepsy genetics to ensure they are well understood by both Hispanic and non-Hispanic patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2443-2453
Number of pages11
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2023


  • genetic attribution
  • genetic essentialism
  • genetic literacy
  • risk perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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