August 3, 2021

Outcomes of Children and Adolescents 1 Year After Being Seen in a Multidisciplinary Psychogenic Nonepileptic Seizures Clinic

Abstract, originally published in Epilepsia

Objective: Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) are paroxysmal events that may involve altered subjective experience and change in motor activity with a psychological cause. The aim of this work is to describe a population of pediatric patients with PNES and identify factors predictive of 12-month outcomes.

Methods: We conducted a prospective observational study of children and adolescents referred to the multidisciplinary Nationwide Children’s Hospital PNES clinic between November 2017 and July 2019. Information was collected from patients during clinic visits and semi-structured follow-up phone calls. Descriptive statistics and Fisher exact test were used for analysis.

Results: Of the 139 consecutive patients referred to the PNES clinic, 104 were seen in clinic and 63 answered 12-month follow-up calls. Patients with comorbid epilepsy had increased rates of participation at 12-month follow-up (p = .04). Complete remission was achieved by 32% (20/63) of patients at 12 months. Combined PNES remission and improvement was 89% (56/63) at 12 months. Patients and families who were linked with counseling at 1 month were more likely to achieve remission at 12 months (p = .005). Less than half (44%, 28/63) of patients reached at 12 months had their events documented on video-electroencephalogram (EEG) at diagnosis; however, those who did were not more likely to be accepting of the diagnosis at 12 months (p = 1.0), be linked with counseling at 12 months (p = .59), or be event-free at 12 months (p = .79).

Significance: Remission occurred in one-third of patients by 12 months; however, improvement in events was seen in 89%. Connection to counseling by 1 month was associated with increased remission rates at 12 months. Capturing events on video-EEG was not associated with increased acceptance or event freedom at 12 months. Diagnosis should be followed by strong encouragement to connect with counseling quickly to achieve a goal of increasing 12-month PNES remission rates.

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