August 27, 2021

Parental Experience and Decision-Making for Epilepsy Surgery: A Systematic Review of Qualitative and Quantitative Studies

Abstract, originally published in Epilepsy & Behavior

Objective: In selected children with drug-resistant epilepsy (DRE), epilepsy surgery is the most effective treatment option, but unfortunately remains highly underutilized. One of the critical obstacles to pursuing surgical therapy is parents/caregivers’ decision against surgery or to delay the surgery until no other treatment option exists. Understanding caregiver decision-making around epilepsy surgery can improve patient/caregiver experience and satisfaction while facilitating appropriate decision-making that optimizes clinical outcomes. The current review systematically explores the existing evidence on caregiver experience and the decision-making process toward epilepsy surgery.

Methods: The study was conducted as per the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines for systematic literature review. Databases (PubMed Ovid, PubMed Medline, Web of Science, CINHAL, PsycInfo) were systematically searched in February 2021 using a defined search strategy and inclusion/exclusion criteria. Total 1304 articles were screened for titles and abstracts, and 54 full-text articles were retrieved for further assessment. We included 14 articles with critical quality assessment using two different tools for qualitative and questionnaire-based studies. A qualitative content analysis was performed to characterize caregiver experience, perception, and decision-making toward favorable or unfavorable opinions of epilepsy surgery.

Results: Four concepts generated from the analysis may act as enablers or barriers to decision-making around epilepsy surgery: 1. Access to knowledge and information, 2. Communication and coordination issues, 3. Caregiver’s emotional state, and 4. Socioeconomic effects. Subsequently, we provided a narrative synthesis of practice recommendations and a conceptual framework to adopt multi-pronged interventions to overcome identified diverse barriers to effective caregiver decision-making.

Conclusion: Multiple influences impact how caregivers decide about epilepsy surgery for their children, with no single factor identified as the primary driver for or against surgery. However, limited research has explored these influences. Future studies should focus on quantitatively examining factors to identify significant variables most likely to influence caregiver decision-making, ultimately overcoming barriers that limit utilization of epilepsy surgery as a treatment tool.

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