August 18, 2021

ADHD and Epilepsy-Related QoL in Youth with Epilepsy

Abstract, originally published in Epilepsy & Behavior

Objective: Pediatric epilepsy and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) present a cumulative vulnerability to youth, particularly in the domains of executive function (EF) and quality of life (QoL). The aim of this study was to explore the relationships between EF and epilepsy-specific QoL in youth with epilepsy (YWE) who also have ADHD.

Methods: Youth with epilepsy aged 5-18 years and caregivers participated in a large multi-site national validation of the PedsQL™ Epilepsy Modules. YWE and their caregivers were asked to complete measures of epilepsy-specific QoL, ADHD symptoms, and EF. Previous ADHD diagnosis was reported by caregivers as well as abstracted from the medical record.

Results: Caregiver and YWE reports of current ADHD symptoms significantly predicted all epilepsy-specific QoL domains. Suboptimal QoL was reported for those YWE whose ADHD symptoms were above the clinical threshold compared to YWE whose ADHD symptoms were within the average range. Results were similar for YWE with a documented ADHD vs no ADHD diagnosis. In addition, poorer metacognition and behavioral regulation EF was associated with lower epilepsy-specific QoL for both YWE with ADHD and without ADHD diagnosis. However, in YWE with ADHD, effect sizes were consistently larger for behavioral regulation compared to metacognition across epilepsy-specific QoL domains, with behavioral regulation accounting for 50% of the variance in each of the EF and mood QoL domains.

Significance: Addressing ADHD symptoms, epilepsy-specific, quality of life, and executive function as part of routine epilepsy care may promote optimal outcomes for YWE with ADHD as well as relieve burden on the healthcare system.

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