June 10, 2022

“It’s hard!”: Adolescents’ Experience Attending School with Psychogenic Nonepileptic Seizures

Abstract found on PubMed

Adolescents with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) face many challenges in the school setting. Researchers have identified school stressors as potential predisposing, precipitating, and perpetuating factors for PNES. However, few researchers have explored the perspectives of adolescents with PNES regarding their experiences of attending school, where they spend much of their time. Therefore, this qualitative study employed content analysis to explore the experience of attending school as an adolescent with PNES. Ten adolescents (100% female, 80% White) were interviewed. With an overwhelming response of “It’s hard!” from respondents, five themes regarding the school experience emerged: stress, bullying, accusations of “faking” seizure events, feeling left out because of the condition, and school-management of PNES. Underlying these themes were expressions of the need for increased understanding from and collaboration among peers, as well as the need for increased understanding from families, healthcare providers, and school personnel including school nurses. Study findings should inform future adolescent PNES research, practice decisions made by healthcare providers in the health and education sectors, education of healthcare and school professionals, and policy development and implementation.