Online Program

Findings from a Quantitative Study to Create a Transition Guide for College Students with Epilepsy

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Samantha Gassel, MS Health Communication, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA

Epilepsy affects over 2.2 million Americans, including thousands of college aged, young adults. College can be dangerous for students with epilepsy, as seizure-inducing behaviors like consuming alcohol and having little sleep are common. Educational materials containing advice about navigating college with epilepsy exist, but are often inaccessible, unappealing, and written in an inappropriate tone or health literacy level.


Two anonymous, ten-minute surveys were administered through Qualtrics to determine health concerns of college-aged individuals with epilepsy; accessibility of information; and preferences for format and aesthetic elements of materials. Convenience samples of young adults with epilepsy were recruited through the Epilepsy Foundation, Facebook, and Reddit (n=127; n=93).        


Respondents self-reported as U.S. citizens ages 18-40.  In Survey One, 55% were enrolled in college and 30% had completed undergraduate education. Remaining participants had completed high school/GED, were enrolled in graduate school, or had completed graduate school. Current students indicated interest in learning about stress and mental health (62%); alcohol and drug use (40%); sleep (40%); and contraception (32%). Among college alumni, 73% wished they had known more about stress and mental health, and 55% about academic accommodations. In Survey Two, participants expressed most interest (57%) in a smartphone transition guide; results were used to create mockups for a mobile application.


This study demonstrated a need for accessible and appealing educational materials that can help college students with epilepsy minimize seizure risk and sustain a healthy lifestyle. Recommendations include developing materials for beta testing and exploring other mediums for disseminating information.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Chronic disease management and prevention
Communication and informatics
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Identify issues that college students with epilepsy wish to learn about Describe students' preferences for seeking health information, format for health information, and aesthetic elements within information. Design a transition guide to help students with epilepsy succeed in college while minimizing seizure risk and sustaining health.

Keyword(s): College Students, Special Populations

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have studied the public health implications of having an epilepsy diagnosis for several years. My interests have included working with the young adult/college population, developing educational materials, and improving health literacy of existing materials. Recently I worked with the Epilepsy Foundation to create a peer-to-peer education program for college students who have epilepsy and/or are interested in epilepsy education.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.