Stigma, seizure frequency and quality of life: the impact of epilepsy in late adulthood.

Research paper by Deirdre P DP McLaughlin, Nancy A NA Pachana, Ken K Mcfarland

Indexed on: 16 Oct '07Published on: 16 Oct '07Published in: Seizure - European Journal of Epilepsy


Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders of late adulthood, yet little research has examined the impact of epilepsy on the quality of life of older people. Current measures of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) have been developed and used almost exclusively in adults under the age of 65. The issues, which affect HRQOL in younger adults, may differ from those which affect older adults who may have age-related physical limitations and multiple co-morbidities. This study sought to explore the HRQOL and psychosocial function of a community dwelling sample of 64 older adults with epilepsy compared with a similar, age-matched control group. An additional objective of the study was to examine the impact of perceived stigma and seizure frequency on HRQOL and psychosocial well-being. Results indicated that HRQOL and psychosocial functioning in the epilepsy group was significantly impaired relative to normal controls. A greater perception of stigma and more frequent seizures was also strongly related to poor quality of life and reduced psychosocial function. Although more than two thirds of the sample had seizure frequency of less than one per year, it was apparent that even infrequent seizures had the facility to impair HRQOL, suggesting that in older adults, the apprehension induced by even the possibility of a seizure may be sufficient to reduce HRQOL. The results have implications for the clinical management of epilepsy and suggest the need for further research in older populations.