Outcome in psychogenic nonepileptic seizures: 1 to 10-year follow-up in 164 patients

Ann Neurol. 2003 Mar;53(3):305-11. doi: 10.1002/ana.3000.


Our knowledge of longer term outcome in psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNESs) patients is limited; we know less still about factors predicting prognosis. This study was intended to describe outcome in a large cohort and to identify predictive clinical and psychological factors to generate new ideas for treatment. One hundred sixty-four adult patients with PNESs (66.7%) responded to outcome, personality, and psychosymptomatology questionnaires (Dimensional Assessment of Personality Pathology-Basic Questionnaire [DAPP-BQ], Dissociative Experiences Scale, and Screening Test for Somatoform Symptoms) a mean of 11.9 years after manifestation and 4.1 years after diagnosis of PNES. Additional clinical data were retrieved from hospital records. The responses showed that 71.2% of patients continued to have seizures and 56.4% were dependent on social security. Dependence increased with follow-up. Outcome was better in patients with greater educational attainments, younger onset and diagnosis, attacks with less dramatic features, fewer additional somatoform complaints, and lower dissociation scores. Better outcome was associated with lower scores of the higher order personality dimensions "inhibitedness," "emotional dysregulation," and "compulsivity" but not "dissocial behavior" (DAPP-BQ). Outcome in PNESs is poor but variable. Clinical and personality factors can be used to provide an individualized prognosis. By generating a patient-specific profile, they show particular maladaptive traits or tendencies that can identify goals for psychological therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Seizures / diagnosis
  • Seizures / psychology*
  • Seizures / therapy*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Treatment Outcome