Explanations given by people with epilepsy for using emergency medical services: a qualitative study

Epilepsy Behav. 2012 Dec;25(4):529-33. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2012.09.034. Epub 2012 Nov 13.


Half of the people with epilepsy (PWE) in the UK experience seizures and 13-18% attend emergency medical services (EMS) annually. The majority of attendances are regarded as clinically unjustified. This study describes PWE explanations for using EMS. A nested qualitative study, part of a larger study based in three South London hospitals, was conducted. Semi-structured interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed thematically. A seizure alone was not the main explanation for attending EMS; knowledge, experience, and confidence of those nearby on what to do and seizure context were important. Additionally, fears of sudden death held by the PWE and others were reported. From the patients' perspective, use of EMS is regarded as appropriate when they are away from home or someone nearby lacks knowledge of seizure management. Hospitals could provide regular group sessions on seizure management for PWE and their significant others, in which fears are discussed and evaluated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Emergency Medical Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Epilepsy / psychology*
  • Epilepsy / therapy
  • Fear / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Services Misuse / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • London / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Seizures / psychology
  • Seizures / therapy

Associated data

  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN06469947