Persons’ with epilepsy experience in the labour market and possibilities for social support
The goal of the article is to reveal the extent to which the right to work is implemented for persons with epilepsy by investigating their subjective experience. The article is based on qualitative research methodology. As a result of criterion-based sampling, research participants were selected based on the following criteria: diagnosis of epilepsy, episodes of attacks, 30-40 years old, and experience in the labor market. Five research participants were interviewed. By using content analysis of qualitative data, three categories with subcategories were formulated: motivation (high motivation for employment, demotivating factors), experience in the labour market (negative emotions during the job interview, hiding the illness, consequences of hiding the illness, stress about a possible attack at work), relations with employees (expectations towards employees, stigmatized attitude of employees, stereotypical thinking, necessity for individualized relations). Research data shows that persons with epilepsy have high motivation for job searching and attempting to stay in labour market, because they want financial stability, safety and inclusion in social life. However, despite high motivation, it is difficult for them to find work and remain
in the labour market. The main demotivating factors are painful experience during job interviews and unadapted working conditions and environment. Persons with epilepsy experience negative emotions during job interviews, they hide their illness from the employers for as long as possible, but even after revealing it they constantly feel the stress about a possible attack. They worry that they will not receive the necessary support during an attack at work and the employers will develop negative attitudes toward them because of the illness. Research participants have clear and specific expectations for the employers, but they feel stigmatized and stereotyped by them. Persons with epilepsy would like to have individualized approach to their situationand adjustment of working conditions to their abilities. Social workers could facilitate the integration of persons with epilepsy into the labour market by providing social support and consulting, informing and training the employees and the employers.
Keywords: epilepsy, readiness for employment, employment experience, relations with employees, social support for persons with epilepsy.