Objectives: To assess health-related quality of life (HRQL) over 2 years in children 4-12 years old with new-onset epilepsy and risk factors.
Methods: Data are from a multicenter prospective cohort study, the Health-Related Quality of Life Study in Children with Epilepsy Study (HERQULES). Parents reported on children's HRQL and family factors and neurologists on clinical characteristics 4 times. Mean subscale and summary scores were computed for HRQL. Individual growth curve models identified trajectories of change in HRQL scores. Multiple regression identified baseline risk factors for HRQL 2 years later.
Results: A total of 374 (82) questionnaires were returned postdiagnosis and 283 (62%) of eligible parents completed all 4. Growth rates for HRQL summary scores were most rapid during the first 6 months and then stabilized. About one-half experienced clinically meaningful improvements in HRQL, one-third maintained their same level, and one-fifth declined. Compared with the general population, at 2 years our sample scored significantly lower on one-third of CHQ subscales and the psychosocial summary. After controlling for baseline HRQL, cognitive problems, poor family functioning, and high family demands were risk factors for poor HRQL 2 years later.
Conclusions: On average, HRQL was relatively good but with highly variable individual trajectories. At least one-half did not experience clinically meaningful improvements or declined over 2 years. Cognitive problems were the strongest risk factor for compromised HRQL 2 years after diagnosis and may be largely responsible for declines in the HRQL of children newly diagnosed with epilepsy.