April 28, 2021

Medium-Term Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic on Epilepsy: A Follow-Up Study

Abstract, originally published in Acta Neurologica Scandinavica

Objective: To analyze the medium-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on epilepsy patients, focusing on psychological effects and seizure control.

Methods: Prospective follow-up study to evaluate the medium-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on a cohort of epilepsy patients from a tertiary hospital previously surveyed during the first peak of the pandemic. Between July 1, 2020, and August 30, 2020, the patients answered an online 19-item questionnaire, HADS, and PSIQ scales. Short- and medium-term effects of the pandemic confinement and the perception of telemedicine were compared.

Results: 153 patients completed the questionnaire, mean ± SD age, 47.6 ± 19.3 years; 49.7% women. Depression was reported by 43 patients, significantly more prevalent than in the short-term analysis (29.2% vs. 19.7%; p = .038). Anxiety (38.1% vs. 36.1%; p = 0.749) and insomnia (28.9% vs. 30.9%, p = .761) remained highly prevalent. Seventeen patients reported an increase in seizure frequency (11.1% vs. 9.1%, p = .515). The three factors independently associated with an increase in seizure frequency in the medium term were drug-resistant epilepsy (odds ratio [OR] = 8.2, 95% CI 2.06-32.52), depression (OR = 6.46, 95% CI 1.80-23.11), and a reduction in income (OR = 5.47, 95% CI 1.51-19.88). A higher proportion of patients found telemedicine unsatisfactory (11.2% vs. 2.4%), and a lower percentage (44.8% vs. 56.8%) found it very satisfactory (p = .005).

Conclusions: Depression rates increased significantly after the first wave. Depression, drug-resistant epilepsy, and a reduction in family income were independent risk factors for an increased seizure frequency. Perception of telemedicine worsened, indicating need for re-adaptation.

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