December 22, 2020

Employment Status as a Major Determinant for Lower Physical Activity of Patients with Epilepsy: A Case-Control Study

Abstract, originally published in Epilepsy & Behavior

Background: People with epilepsy (PWE) may have a sedentary lifestyle and less physical activity (PA) as they are often advised against engaging in sports, despite a plethora of evidence suggesting seizure control, major health and psychosocial benefits associated with PA. We aimed to investigate PWE’s beliefs on PA and their level of PA compared to controls.

Methods: The Baecke questionnaire for measuring habitual PA in adults, comprising three domains (occupational PA, leisure, and locomotion), was applied in 97 consecutive PWE (96.9% with focal epilepsy, 39.2% well controlled with pharmacological treatment) and 45 healthy controls matched for gender, age, and socioeconomic characteristics.

Results: The total Baecke score was significantly lower in PWE than controls (7.6 ± 1.5 versus 8.2 ± 1.2; p < 0.01). PWE showed a significantly lower employment rate than controls (34.0% versus 73.3%; p < 0.01), and consequently lower occupational PA (p < 0.01). Physical exercise during sports time (p = 0.23) and leisure activities (p = 0.55) scores were similar between patients and controls. When PWE and controls’ sociodemographic characteristics were analyzed together by multiple linear regression, 21% of the Baecke total score variation was explained by diagnosis of epilepsy (B = -0.26; p = 0.05), years of education (B = -0.35; p = 0.03), and occupational status (B = -0.41; p < 0.01). However, diagnosis of epilepsy alone explained only 4% (B = -0.64; p = 0.01) of Baecke total score variation.

Conclusion: The level of physical activity in people with epilepsy is only slightly lower than in controls (8% lower score) and it may be explained by lower occupational physical activity, probably related to lower employment rate among people with epilepsy.

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