Disability patterns over the first year after a diagnosis of epilepsy

Xu, Y, Neuen, DR, Glozier, N, Nikpour, A, Somerville, E, Bleasel, A, Ireland, C, Anderson, CS and Hackett, Maree orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-1211-9087 (2019) Disability patterns over the first year after a diagnosis of epilepsy. Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery, 179 . pp. 60-65. ISSN 0303-8467

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clineuro.2019.02.022



To determine the patterns and predictors of disability over the first 12 months after a diagnosis of epilepsy.

Patients and methods

The Sydney Epilepsy Incidence Study to Measure Illness Consequences (SEISMIC) was a prospective, multicenter, community-based study of people with newly diagnosed epilepsy in Sydney, Australia. Disability was assessed using the World Health Organization’s, Disability Assessment Schedule (WHODAS) 2.0 12-item version, at baseline (i.e. within 28 days of diagnosis) and 12 months post-diagnosis. Demographic, socioeconomic, clinical and epilepsy-related data, obtained through structured interviews, were entered into multivariable linear regression and shift analysis to determine predictors of greater disability.


Of 259 adults (≥18 years), 190 (73%) had complete WHODAS at baseline (mean ± SD scores 4 ± 6) and follow-up (4 ± 8). After adjustment for age, sex and co-morbidity, greater overall disability at 12 months was associated with lower education (P = 0.05), economic hardship (P = 0.004), multiple antiepileptic medications (P = 0.02) and greater disability (P < 0.001) at the time of diagnosis; these variables explained 38.3% of the variance. Among the 12 WHODAS items, “being emotionally affected by health problems” was the most frequent disability problem identified at both time points (all P < 0.0001). The proportion of participants without problems in that domain improved over 12 months (from 24% to 50%, P < 0.0001), whereas the other 11 items remained relatively stable. Independent baseline predictors of a worse emotional outcome at 12 months were severe/extreme emotional distress (odds ratio [OR] 4.52, 95% confidence intervals [CI] 1.67–12.24), economic hardship (OR 2.30, 95% CI 1.24–4.25) and perceived stigma (OR 2.02, 95% CI 1.03–3.93).


Most people report problems with emotional health after a diagnosis of epilepsy but many recover over the next 12 months. Services addressing the social and psychological impact of diagnosis may be needed to improve outcome.

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