Background: Self-management education has been shown to improve the quality of life of people with chronic illnesses. It has been suggested that self-management education may improve seizure control and other outcomes in people with epilepsy.
Objectives: To review systematically the research literature on the effectiveness of self-management education in improving health outcomes for adults with epilepsy.
Search strategy: We searched MEDLINE (Ovid) (1966 to April 2005), EMBASE (Ovid) (1980 to April 2005), CINAHL (Dialog) (1980 to April 2005), PsycINFO (Dialog) (1887 to April 2005), and the Cochrane Epilepsy Group's Specialised Register (April 2005). We also handsearched Epilepsia and conference abstracts and proceedings. Experts in the field were contacted to identify any additional trials. We did not impose any language restriction. We re-ran the searches in February 2007 and added the identified references to the 'Studies awaiting assessment' table.
Selection criteria: Randomised trials of self-management education programmes for adults with epilepsy.
Data collection and analysis: At least two review authors independently assessed the quality of each study and extracted data.
Main results: Two trials evaluated the effect of self-management education for adults with epilepsy, neither of which assessed as being of high quality. In total, 483 adults with epilepsy were randomised. Both trials showed improvements in seizure frequency and other outcomes, such as knowledge. However, we were not able to estimate a summary effect for seizure frequency due to a lack of data.
Authors' conclusions: Self-management education programmes, based on increasing understanding through psychosocial methods, may improve knowledge about epilepsy, certain behavioural outcomes, and reduce seizure frequency. It is, however, not clear how effective self-management programmes of epilepsy would be in a more general population of adults with epilepsy, as both trials had higher proportions of people with partial seizures than would be expected in a community sample.