Jane von Gaudecker, MSN, PhD, FAES, assistant professor of the Science of Nursing Care at the Indiana University School of Nursing, received the Victor Rabinowitch Memorial Award for Young Leaders in International Scientific Cooperation from CRDF Global to advance the study of health disparities that influence epilepsy treatment adherence among vulnerable populations living in resource-poor settings.
Epilepsy is a serious neurological condition and a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Globally, epilepsy prevalence is highest in sub-Saharan Africa. In western Kenya, most people with epilepsy remain untreated, although 70 percent could remain seizure-free with appropriate and low cost antiseizure medication. “Adherence to antiseizure medication treatment is important to improve quality of life and reduce morbidity, mortality, and sudden unexpected death related to epilepsy,” said Dr. von Gaudecker, an IU Center for Global Health affiliated faculty member. “My aim is to improve the lives of underserved people living with stigmatizing diseases such as epilepsy.”
Dr. von Gaudecker is the only globally-focused epilepsy nurse scientist in the country. She conducts research within the AMPATH partnership with Moi University and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Kenya. She collaborates with a multidisciplinary team of Kenyan researchers and clinicians who are interested in conducting epilepsy research in western Kenya.
The purpose of the study is two-fold: to build epilepsy research capacity and to understand why some people with epilepsy return for treatment follow-up while a significant majority of others do not in western Kenya. “It is critical to design interventions to improve antiseizure medication treatment in currently untreated people with epilepsy in this region. Knowledge about illness experience and treatment behaviors is essential to develop patient-centered interventions that are culturally tailored, respectful of, and responsive to individual needs,” said Dr. von Gaudecker.
Funding from the award will be used to train future researchers and collaborators; develop collaborations with Community Health Workers; and support a Kenyan researcher to participate in a scientific conference.
“In her long-term work to build indigenous capacity in Kenya to develop scientific knowledge and apply it directly to address key health issues, Dr. von Gaudecker exemplifies Victor Rabinowitch’s dedication to promoting international science collaboration with Africa to enhance the quality of life for all people,” the award sponsors said.