August 24, 2021

Enhanced Rates of Detection and Treatment of Depression and Anxiety Disorders Among Adult Patients with Epilepsy Using Automated EMR-Based Screening

Abstract, originally published in Epilepsy & Behavior

Objective: Depression and anxiety disorders are common among patients with epilepsy (PWE). These comorbidities have been shown to influence prognosis and may have a greater impact on quality of life than seizure control. Despite guideline recommendations and expert consensus to regularly screen for and treat both conditions, there is evidence that they are underdiagnosed and undertreated. Our goal was to test a novel screening method to determine if it would increase the rate of detecting and treating depression and anxiety disorders among PWE.

Method: The Neurological Disorders Depression Inventory for Epilepsy (NDDI-E) and the Brief Epilepsy Anxiety Survey Instrument (brEASI) were selected as validated screening instruments for depression and anxiety disorders, respectively. They were sent via an electronic medical record-linked patient portal to all patients of four epileptologists 48 h prior to their clinic appointment. We evaluated whether this increased the rate of detecting and treating depression and anxiety disorders relative to a historical control group.

Results: A total of 563 patients were included of whom 351 were sent the screening instruments. 62.7% of patients completed the screening instruments of whom 47.7% screened positive for either depression only (16.4%), anxiety disorders only (5.5%) or both (25.9%); a statistically significant increase relative to the control group. There was also a significantly increased proportion of patients for whom treatment was initiated for depression (p < 0.01), anxiety disorders (p < 0.01), or both (p < 0.01).

Conclusions: We identified an easily applicable and efficient means of enhancing detection and treatment rates for depression and anxiety disorders among PWE in a busy clinic setting.

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