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Wearable technology in epilepsy: The views of patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-149
Number of pages9
JournalEpilepsy & Behavior
Volume85
Early online date23 Jun 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018

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King's Authors

Abstract

Purpose
In recent years, digital technology and wearable devices applied to seizure detection have progressively become available. In this study, we investigated the perspectives of people with epilepsy (PWE), caregivers (CG), and healthcare professionals (HP). We were interested in their current use of digital technology as well as their willingness to use wearables to monitor seizures. We also explored the role of factors influencing engagement with technology, including demographic and clinical characteristics, data confidentiality, need for technical support, and concerns about strain or increased workload.

Methods
An online survey drawing on previous data collected via focus groups was constructed and distributed via a web link. Using logistic regression analyses, demographic, clinical, and other factors identified to influence engagement with technology were correlated with reported use and willingness to use digital technology and wearables for seizure tracking.

Results
Eighty-seven surveys were completed, fifty-two (59.7%) by PWE, 13 (14.4%) by CG, and 22 (25.3%) by HP. Responders were familiar with multiple digital technologies, including the Internet, smartphones, and personal computers, and the use of digital services was similar to the UK average. Moreover, age and disease-related factors did not influence access to digital technology. The majority of PWE were willing to use a wearable device for long-term seizure tracking. However, only a limited number of PWE reported current regular use of wearables, and nonusers attributed their choice to uncertainty about the usefulness of this technology in epilepsy care. People with epilepsy envisaged the possibility of understanding their condition better through wearables and considered, with caution, the option to send automatic emergency calls. Despite concerns around accuracy, data confidentiality, and technical support, these factors did not limit PWE's willingness to use digital technology. Caregivers appeared willing to provide support to PWE using wearables and perceived a reduction of their workload and anxiety. Healthcare professionals identified areas of application for digital technologies in their clinical practice, pending an appropriate reorganization of the clinical team to share the burden of data reviewing and handling.

Conclusions
Unlike people who have other chronic health conditions, PWE appeared not to be at risk of digital exclusion. This study highlighted a great interest in the use of wearable technology across epilepsy service users, carers, and healthcare professionals, which was independent of demographic and clinical factors and outpaced data security and technology usability concerns.

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