by Brad Duncan
With more than 40 types of epilepsy affecting at least 1 in 100 adults and 1 in 20 children in the United States, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) has formed the Committee on the Public Health Dimensions of the Epilepsies to study the state of health literacy, education, and health care and human services for the epilepsies in the U.S. Because of his work in the field, University of Kentucky College of Education Professor Malachy Bishop is one of 16 national and international health professionals selected to serve on the committee.
“It’s a tremendous honor,” Bishop said. “I was humbled to be asked to serve with the IOM and this committee, and to have this opportunity to impact the lives of people with epilepsy. I am keenly aware of the importance our task is to people with epilepsy and their families. I hope my experiences through my research and practice will allow me to bring awareness of a range of health-related concerns.”
A faculty member in the Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation Counseling, Bishop has spent more than 12 years focusing his research on the psychosocial aspects of epilepsy and other chronic neurological conditions, including looking at quality of life, employment and vocational aspects of epilepsy, and teachers’ attitudes about epilepsy. He has served with the Epilepsy Foundation’s national professional advisory board and on task forces for the Epilepsy Foundation and American Epilepsy Society looking at issues related to employment, health care and military veterans.
The Committee on the Public Health Dimensions of the Epilepsies will focus on the following specific questions:
- How can the public health burden of epilepsy for patients and families be more accurately assessed?
- What priorities for future population health studies could inform treatment and prevention?
- How can the access to health and human services and the quality of care for people with epilepsy be improved?
- How can the education and training of professionals who work with people with epilepsy be improved?
- How can the understanding of epilepsy in patients and the general public be improved to create supportive communities?
“The work of this committee will have a direct impact on national policy and on the experiences of Americans living with epilepsy,” Bishop said. “Our work will be used in establishing public health priorities and identifying strategies for addressing barriers and knowledge gaps that affect the quality of life of people with epilepsy and their families.”