Impact of family functioning on quality of life in patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures versus epilepsy

Epilepsia. 2011 Feb;52(2):292-300. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2010.02765.x. Epub 2011 Feb 7.


Purpose: To evaluate different contributions of aspects of family functioning (FF) on health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) versus epileptic seizures (ES).

Methods: Forty-five participants with PNES and 32 with ES completed self-report measures of FF (Family Assessment Device; FAD), HRQOL (Quality of Life in Epilepsy-31), and depression (Beck Depression Inventory-II; BDI-II). The FAD is a self-report questionnaire that assesses FF along six dimensions and general functioning. Regression analyses were used to evaluate the contribution of FF to HRQOL above and beyond the effects of disease severity and depression.

Key findings: Mean Family General Functioning fell in the unhealthy range in participants with ES or PNES. On further analysis, male participants in each group endorsed unhealthy levels of FF compared to female participants. Patients with PNES reported poorer HRQOL and greater depressive symptoms compared to ES participants; there were no gender differences in HRQOL. Regression analyses indicated that the FAD Roles subscale predicted reduced HRQOL in patients with PNES after controlling for illness duration, seizure frequency, and depression. After controlling for the same factors, Communication and Affective Involvement subscales scores predicted HRQOL in ES participants.

Significance: Family dysfunction was reported in both ES and PNES participants, but greater family dysfunction was experienced by male participants in both groups. Aspects of FF predicted HRQOL in patients with PNES and ES differentially. FF may be an important treatment target to enhance coping in these groups, although the treatments may need to target different aspects of FF in PNES versus ES.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Communication
  • Depression / psychology
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy / psychology*
  • Family Relations*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Quality of Life*
  • Seizures / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome