January 28, 2022

The Effect of Epilepsy Surgery on Productivity

Abstract appeared in Wiley Online Library

 Objectives: An important but understudied benefit of resective epilepsy surgery is improvement in productivity; that is, people’s ability to contribute to society through participation in the workforce and in unpaid roles such as carer duties. Here, we aimed to evaluate productivity in adults with drug-resistant epilepsy (DRE) pre- and post-resective epilepsy surgery, and to explore the factors that positively influence productivity outcomes.

Methods: We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis using four electronic databases: Medline (Ovid), EMBASE (Ovid), EBM Reviews – Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), and Cochrane Library. All studies over the past 30 years reporting on pre- and post-resective epilepsy surgical outcomes in adults with DRE were eligible for inclusion. Meta-analysis was performed to assess the post-surgery change in employment outcomes.

Results: A total of 1005 titles and abstracts were reviewed. Seventeen studies, comprising 2056 unique patients, were suitable for the final quantitative synthesis and meta-analysis. Resective epilepsy surgery resulted in a 22% improvement in overall productivity (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.07–1.40). The factors associated with increased post-surgery employment risk ratios were lower pre-surgical employment in the workforce (relative risk ratio [RRR] =0.34; 95% CI: 0.15–0.74), shorter follow-up duration (RRR = 0.95; 95% CI: 0.90–0.99), and lower mean age at time of surgery (RRR= 0.97; 95% CI: 0.94–0.99). The risk of bias of the included studies was assessed using Risk Of Bias In Non-randomised Studies – of Interventions and was low for most variables except ”measurement of exposure.”

Significance: There is clear evidence that resective surgery in eligible surgical drug-resistant epilepsy (DRE) patients results in improved productivity. Future work may include implementing a standardized method for collecting and reporting productivity in epilepsy cohorts and focusing on ways to reprioritize health care resource allocation to allow suitable candidates to access surgery earlier. This will ultimately benefit individuals with DRE, their families, our communities, and the wider health care system.