Clinical effectiveness of the psychological therapy Mental Health Intervention for Children with Epilepsy in addition to usual care compared with assessment-enhanced usual care alone: a multicentre, randomised controlled clinical trial in the UK

Sophie D. Bennett*, J. Helen Cross, Kashfia Chowdhury, Tamsin Ford, Isobel Heyman, Anna E. Coughtrey, Emma Dalrymple, Sarah Byford, Bruce Chorpita, Peter Fonagy, Rona Moss-Morris, Colin Reilly, Jonathan A. Smith, Terence Stephenson, Sophia Varadkar, James Blackstone, Harriet Quartly, Tyler Hughes, Amy Lewins, Elana MooreFahreen Walji, Alice Welch, Emily Whelan, Alice Zacharia, Anaïs D'Oelsnitz, Mariam Shah, Laila Xu, Aikaterini Vezyroglou, Kirsten Mitchell, Isabella E. Nizza, Poushali Ganguli, Roz Shafran

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Mental health difficulties are common in children and young people with chronic health conditions, but many of those in need do not access evidence-based psychological treatments. The study aim was to evaluate the clinical effectiveness of integrated mental health treatment for children and young people with epilepsy, a common chronic health condition known to be associated with a particularly high rate of co-occurring mental health difficulties. Methods: We conducted a parallel group, multicentre, open-label, randomised controlled trial of participants aged 3–18 years, attending epilepsy clinics across England and Northern Ireland who met diagnostic criteria for a common mental health disorder. Participants were randomised (1:1; using an independent web-based system) to receive the Mental Health Intervention for Children with Epilepsy (MICE) in addition to usual care, or assessment-enhanced usual care alone (control). Children and young people in both groups received a full diagnostic mental health assessment. MICE was a modular psychological intervention designed to treat common mental health conditions in children and young people using evidence-based approaches such as cognitive behaviour therapy and behavioural parenting strategies. Usual care for mental health disorders varied by site but typically included referral to appropriate services. Participants, along with their caregivers, and clinicians were not masked to treatment allocation but statisticians were masked until the point of analysis. The primary outcome, analysed by modified intention-to-treat, was the parent-report Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) at 6 months post-randomisation. The study is complete and registered with ISRCTN (57823197). Findings: 1401 young people were potentially deemed eligible for study inclusion. Following the exclusion of 531 young people, 870 participants were assessed for eligibility and completed the SDQ, and 480 caregivers provided consent for study inclusion between May 20, 2019, and Jan 31, 2022. Between Aug 28, 2019, and Feb 21, 2022, 334 participants (mean ages 10·5 years [SD 3·6] in the MICE group vs 10·3 [4·0] in control group at baseline) were randomly assigned to an intervention using minimisation balanced by age, primary mental health disorder, diagnosis of intellectual disability, and autistic spectrum disorder at baseline. 168 (50%) of the participants were female and 166 (50%) were male. 166 participants were randomly assigned to the MICE group and 168 were randomly assigned to the control group. At 6 months, the mean SDQ difficulties for the 148 participants in the MICE group was 17·6 (SD 6·3) and 19·6 (6·1) for the 148 participants in the control group. The adjusted effect of MICE was –1·7 (95% CI –2·8 to –0·5; p=0·0040; Cohen's d, 0·3). 14 (8%) patients in the MICE group experienced at least one serious adverse event compared with 24 (14%) in the control group. 68% percent of serious adverse events (50 events) were admission due to seizures. Interpretation: MICE was superior to assessment-enhanced usual care in improving symptoms of emotional and behavioural difficulties in young people with epilepsy and common mental health disorders. The trial therefore shows that mental health comorbidities can be effectively and safely treated by a variety of clinicians, utilising an integrated intervention across ages and in the context of intellectual disability and autism. The evidence from this trial suggests that such a model should be fully embedded in epilepsy services and serves as a model for other chronic health conditions in young people. Funding: UK National Institute for Health Research Programme Grants for Applied Research programme and Epilepsy Research UK Endeavour Project Grant.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1254-1266
Number of pages13
JournalThe Lancet
Volume403
Issue number10433
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2024

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