Young people’s experiences of living with epilepsy: the significance of family resilience

Judith Chew*, John Carpenter, Anne M. Haase

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)
526 Downloads (Pure)


Objective: Young people with chronic illnesses, such as epilepsy, tend to have poorer psychosocial outcomes compared to their peers. Nevertheless, not all young people experience difficulties adapting to living with epilepsy. The aim of this study was to examine family processes, as little is known about their impact on young people’s adaptation to the condition. Method: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 young people, aged between 13 and 16 years old, to explore their experiences of living with epilepsy from the perspective of family resilience. Results: Findings from these interviews provided in-depth descriptions of stressful circumstances encountered and family processes. These processes, which in turn promoted positive adaptation, included shared family beliefs, family connectedness, and communication processes that supported collaborative problem-solving. Conclusion: Practitioners who support young people living with chronic conditions, such as epilepsy, should consider interventions that promote family connectedness, as it allows young people to turn to their families for support in times of stress. Additionally, it is important to explore young people’s beliefs, helping them and their families construct a new sense of normality if necessary. Supporting open communication between family members, where differing views were acknowledged, is likely to be important in facilitating resilience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)332-354
Number of pages23
JournalSocial Work in Health Care
Issue number5
Early online date23 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2018


  • Adolescents
  • Epilepsy
  • Family resilience
  • Chronic illness
  • Qualitative


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