Psychological Treatments for People with Epilepsy (Review)

Rosa Michaelis, Venus Tang, Janelle Wagner, Avani Modi, WC LaFrance Jnr, Laura Hilary Goldstein, Tobias Lundgren, Markus Reuber

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Background Given the significant impact epilepsy can have on the health-related quality of life (HRQoL) of individuals with epilepsy and their families, there is great clinical interest in evidence-based psychological treatments, aimed at enhancing psychological well-being in people with epilepsy. A review of the current evidence was needed to assess the effects of psychological treatments for people with epilepsy on HRQoL outcomes, in order to inform future therapeutic recommendations and research designs.ObjectivesTo assess the effects of psychological treatments for people with epilepsy on HRQoL outcomes.Search methodsWe searched the following databases on 20 September 2016, without language restrictions: Cochrane Epilepsy Group Specialized Register, CENTRAL, MEDLINE PsycINFO,, WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP).We screened the references from included studies and relevant reviews, and contacted researchers in the field for unpublished studies.Selection criteriaWe considered randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-RCTs for this review. HRQoL was the main outcome measure. For the operational definition of ’psychological treatments’, we included a broad range of treatments that used psychological or behavioural techniques designed to improve HRQoL, seizure frequency and severity, and psychiatric comorbidities for adults and children with epilepsy, compared to treatment as usual (TAU) or an active control group.Data collection and analysisWe used standard methodological procedures expected by the Cochrane Collaboration.Main resultsWe included 24 completed RCTs, with a total of 2439 participants. Eleven studies investigated psychological interventions, such as cognitive, behavioral, and mindfulness-based interventions. The remaining studies were classified as educational interventions (N = 7), self-management interventions (N = 3), adherence interventions (N = 1), and mixed interventions (N = 2). Two studies investigated interventions for children and adolescents, and five studies investigated interventions for adolescents and adults. Based on satisfactory clinical and methodological homogeneity, we pooled data from six adult studies, two studies on adolescents and adults, and one on adolescents and young adults (468 participants) for HRQoL, measured with the Quality of Life in Epilepsy-31 (QOLIE-31).We found significant mean changes for theQOLIE-31 total score and six subscales (emotional well-being, energy and fatigue, overall QoL, seizure worry, medication effects, and cognitive functioning). The mean changes of the QOLIE-31 total score (mean improvement of 5.68 points (95% CI 3.11 to 8.24; P < 0.0001), and three subscales, emotional well-being (mean improvement of 7.03 points (95%CI 2.51 to 11.54; P = 0.002); energy and Fatigue (mean improvement of 6.90 points (95% CI 3.49 to 10.31; P < 0.0001); and overall QoL (mean improvement of 6.47 points (95%CI 2.68 to 10.25; P = 0.0008) exceeded the threshold of minimally important change (MIC), indicating a clinically meaningful post-intervention improvement of QoL. We downgraded the quality of the evidence provided by the meta-analysis because of serious risk of bias in some of the included studies. Consequentially, these results provided evidence of moderate quality that psychological treatments for adults with epilepsy may enhance overall QoL in people with epilepsy.
Authors’ conclusionsImplications for practice: Psychological interventions and self-management interventions improved QoL, and emotional well-being, and reduced fatigue in adults and adolescents with epilepsy. Adjunctive use of psychological treatments for adults and adolescents with epilepsy may provide additional benefits to QoL in those who incorporate patient-centered management.Implications for research: Authors should strictly adhere to the CONSORT guidelines to improve the quality of reporting on their interventions. A thorough description of the intervention protocol is necessary to ensure reproducibility.When researching psychological treatments for people with epilepsy, the use of Quality of Life in Epilepsy Inventories (QOLIE-31, QOLIE-31-P, and QOLIE-89) would increase comparability. There is a critical gap in pediatric RCTs for psychological treatments, particularly those that use an epilepsy-specific measure of HRQoL. Finally, in order to increase the overall quality of study designs, adequate randomization with allocation concealment and blinded outcome assessment should be pursued when conducting RCTs. As attrition is often high in research that requires active participant participation, an intention-to-treat analysis should be carried out.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
VolumeCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2017, Issue 10. Art. No.: CD012081. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD012081.pub2.
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 16 Aug 2017


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