Article Details

Research Database: Article Details

Citation:  Parfene, C., Stewart, T., & King, T. (2009). Epilepsy stigma and stigma by association in the workplace. Epilepsy and Behavior, 15 (4), 461-466.
Title:  Epilepsy stigma and stigma by association in the workplace
Authors:  Parfene, C., Stewart, T., & King, T.
Year:  2009
Journal/Publication:  Epilepsy and Behavior
Publisher:  Elsevier
Full text:   
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  No
Research design:  Randomized controlled trial

Structured abstract:

Background:  Individuals with epilepsy have faced well documented workplace disadvantages. These individuals have a higher unemployment and underemployment rate than the general population. Significant stigmas are also associated with epilepsy and employer concerns about safety, co-worker discomfort, and less productivity are often cited as reasons for the low employment rate.
Purpose:  The purpose of this study was to determine whether the stigma associated with epilepsy would result in poorer workplace outcomes in an experimental study.
Setting:  Participants performed the study in a computer lab at a predominately commuter university.
Study sample:  The sample consisted of 40 men and 16 women enrolled in a psychology course at a predominately commuter university. Participants ranged from 18 to 53 years old and were predominately Caucasian.
Intervention:  Participants were seated at a computer and asked to assume the role of an employer evaluating an employee. Participants received one of six randomly assigned work portfolios that were all identical except that the employee was either a man or woman and had or had not taken leave for one of the following three reasons-a. no reason given, b. to care for a child with asthma, or c. to care for a child with epilepsy.
Control or comparison condition:  Asthma was used as a control as it has fewer stigmas associated with it than epilepsy.
Data collection and analysis:  A MANOVA was done to determine whether taking leave to care for a child with epilepsy negatively impacted work outcomes.
Findings:  The hypothetical employees that took leave to care for a child with epilepsy received fewer workplace rewards and increased penalties than did employees in other conditions.
Conclusions:  These findings show the bias surrounding epilepsy that exists in the workplace. In this case the hypothetical employee did not even have epilepsy themselves yet still faced a bias associated with it.