October 29, 2019

Refractory Epilepsy and Non-Adherence to Drug Treatment

In patients with epilepsy, non-adherence to agreed antiepileptic drug (AED) treatment may result in seizure relapse, and at worst Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP). The aim of this study was to examine the extent of both unintentional and intentional non-adherence among Norwegian patients with refractory epilepsy and try to identify possible risk factors.

At the National Centre for Epilepsy in Norway, 333 consecutive adult in- and outpatients with refractory epilepsy participated in an anonymous survey about adherence to drug treatment.

Twenty-two percent of participants admitted they sometimes or often forgot to take their drugs as scheduled, and 19% reported they, rarely, sometimes, or often intentionally did not follow the AED-treatment plan agreed upon with their physician. Young age and depression was significantly correlated with unintentional non-adherence. Intentional non-adherence was associated with young age (36 years or younger). This study found non-adherence not to be associated with any specific AED.

In conclusion, about one fifth of patients with refractory epilepsy admitted that they did not adhere to the agreed drug treatment plan, either intentionally or unintentionally. Measures to reduce non-adherence in this patient group may improve seizure control and should be tailored to address both unintentional and intentional lack of adherence.

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