To the Editor:

We thank Wong and Chung very much for their interesting comments and we are glad to see the captioned issue was addressed independently.

To response Wong and Chung's comments, we had tried our best, but failed, to locate similar articles enlisted in Medline addressing the same issue in HKSAR. In addition, we had tried to search locally, but apparently overlooked at the time of manuscript preparation. As an echo to our manuscript after publication in Epilepsia, we then realized that a much smaller scale survey was performed by volunteers in 1997 and published locally (1,2). Hence, at our proximity, there are a lot of enthusiastic people willing to help patients with epilepsy.

We would like to take this opportunity to explain some background history of this survey. It was a project to promote an epilepsy-related Internet URL for Hong Kong Chinese. The design of questionnaire was based on published articles on the same area (3,4,5,6,7,8), with modifications. We aimed at collecting data to address our local situations and colloquial myths (9). It would be impossible to achieve our aims if we duplicate the survey performed elsewhere. As pointed out by Wong and Chung, we have to admit that direct comparison between different surveys would be difficult. However, compare and contrast data generated from different studies can help readers from different cultural backgrounds to understand the extent of our problems. Nevertheless, our objective was different from Wong and Chung's study. We reiterated our objective were (a) to obtain an initial estimation of public awareness of, understanding of, and attitude toward epilepsy in HKSAR; (b) to investigate the relation between familiarity, knowledge, understanding, and attitude of epilepsy, and the demographic background of respondents; and (c) to investigate the prevalence and practice of misbelieves or myths about epilepsy in the general public (9).

We have qualms about the objective of Wong and Chung's study. As the matter of fact, with the exception of genetic ethnicity, the cultures and languages (especially spoken language) of people in living Beijing of China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia are not the same. For example, people speak Cantonese in Hong Kong, Mandarin in Beijing of China, and Mandarin and Taiwanese in Taiwan. Despite the character we used are of the same origin, the meaning of the same word or phase may contravene each other in different localities. Nevertheless, we would like to see the result of head-to-head comparison in Wong and Chung's study. This can certainly help to dissect the underlying psychosocial and cultural influences on general public against patients with epilepsy. Strategies against the identified issues may alleviate the psychosocial pain and suffer of patients with epilepsy.


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  • 1
    Hung ATF. Forming a self-help organization with people with epilepsy in Hong Kong with an empowerment approach. In: The Hong Kong Society for Rehabilitation Community Rehabilitation Network ed. Community Rehabilitation for People with Chronic Illness. The Hong Kong Society for Rehabilitation Community Rehabilitation Network Press. 1999;157–83.
  • 2
    YMCA. A survey on the public perception of epilepsy. 1997.
  • 3
    Iivanainen M, Uutella A, Vikkumaa I. Public awareness and attitudes towards epilepsy in Finland. Epilepsia 1980;21: 41323.
  • 4
    Caveness WF, Gallup GH Jr. A survey of public attitudes toward epilepsy in 1979 with an indication of trends over the past thirty years. Epilepsia. 1980;21:509–18.
  • 5
    Canger R, Cornaggia C. Public attitudes toward epilepsy in Italy: results of a survey and comparison with U.S.A. and West German data. Epilepsia. 1985;26:221–6.
  • 6
    Jensen R, Dam M. Public attitudes toward epilepsy in Denmark. Epilepsia. 1992;33:459–63.
  • 7
    Chung MY, Chang YC, Lai YH, Lai CW. Survey of public awareness, understanding, and attitudes toward epilepsy in Taiwan. Epilepsia. 1995;36:488–93.
  • 8
    Lai CW, Huang XS, Lai YH, Zhang ZQ, Liu GJ, Yang MZ. Survey of public awareness, understanding, and attitudes toward epilepsy in Henan province, China. Epilepsia. 1990;31:182–7.
  • 9
    Fong CY, Hung A. Public awareness, attitude, and understanding of epilepsy in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China. Epilepsia 2002 Mar;43(3):311–6.