March 15, 2021

Psychiatric Symptoms Are the Strongest Predictors of Quality of Life in Patients With Drug-Resistant Epilepsy or Psychogenic Nonepileptic Seizures

Abstract, originally published in Epilepsy & Behavior

Objective: This cross-sectional study aimed to determine the effect of psychiatric comorbidity and neurocognitive deficits on the quality of life in a cohort of patients admitted for Video-EEG Monitoring (VEM) for investigation into a presumed seizure disorder.

Methods: Patients were recruited from an inpatient VEM unit between January 2009 and December 2016. All patients had formal neuropsychiatric assessment. All patients completed questionnaires assessing psychiatric symptomatology (SCL-90-R), Anxiety and Depression (HADS), quality of life (QOLIE-89), and cognition (NUCOG).

Results: A total of 451 patients were enrolled. Upon discharge, 204 patients were diagnosed to have epilepsy, 118 psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES), and 29 both epilepsy and PNES, while the diagnosis was uncertain diagnosis in 100. Diagnosis (p = .002), HADS Depression score (p < .001), SCL-90-R positive symptoms total (p < .001), and NUCOG total score (p < .001) were found to be significant predictors of QOLIE-89 total scores, together explaining 65.4% of variance in quality of life. Seizure frequency was not a significant predictor of quality of life (p = .082). Patients with PNES had significantly worse quality of life, and scored higher on measures of psychiatric symptomatology, compared to patients with epilepsy alone. The prevalence of psychiatric comorbidity was significantly higher in patients with PNES (70.3%) or both PNES and epilepsy (62.1%) compared to patients with epilepsy alone (41.2%) (p < .001).

Significance: Psychiatric symptomatology, depression, and cognition were stronger determinants of quality of life than seizure frequency in this study population of patients with drug-resistant epilepsy and PNES. Patients with PNES with or without comorbid epilepsy had similar neuropsychiatric profiles.

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