Incidence of epilepsy

Reference Number: 
PGD5/CNewton/Incidence of epilepsy
Prof. Charles Newton and Dr. Symon Kariuki



Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological conditions, but there is little data on the incidence of epilepsy in resource poor countries. In 2010, we conducted a systematic review of the incidence of epilepsy and identified 33 studies on which to base the global incidence of epilepsy (Ngugi AK, Kariuki SM, Bottomley C, Kleinschmidt I, Sander JW, Newton CR.

Incidence of epilepsy: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Neurology. 2011 Sep

6;77(10):1005-12) . Since then, more incidence studies have been published, some of which have shown an increase in the incidence. One of the difficulties in interpreting these studies is that the incidence is often calculated from the recall of the onset of seizures during cross-sectional surveys, rather than the prospective follow up of a cohort. The reliability of the first method (recall) needs to be compared to the prospective follow-up studies. 

The student will:

  1. Conduct a systematic review of incidence of epilepsy.
  2. Examine the database from incidence studies that we have conducted in Kenya and South Africa, to determine the accuracy of the incidence based upon the recall of seizures over 1, 2  and 5 years and prospective follow-up studies.


Questions to be addressed by the student

  1. Has there been any changes in the incidence of epilepsy in the last 8 years?
  2. Can recall of onset of seizures be used to calculate the incidence of epilepsy?


Skills to be acquired by the student

The student will acquire skills in conducting formal systematic reviews as well as statistical and epidemiology skills in the analysis of previously collected data.


Preferred training background of the student

The student should have an interest in public health, preferably with exposure to statistics and/or epidemiology. Students can come from a statistical, nursing, medical or public health backgrounds.


Application deadline: 11 February 2019