Purpose: Epilepsy surgery has been shown to improve patient quality of life (QOL). Little is known about its effect on caregiver QOL.
Methods: The study population comprised of 26 persons with epilepsy (PWE) who underwent long term video EEG monitoring at Massachusetts General Hospital for presurgical evaluation along with 16 caregivers. The PWE completed epilepsy directed QOL (QOLIE-31) and psychological (Beck depression-BDI and anxiety inventory-BAI) questionnaires before and after surgery. Their participating caregivers completed generic health related QOL (SF36v2) and disease burden (Zarit caregiver burden inventory-ZCBI) questionnaires before and after surgery. Demographic data for all participants and disease/surgery related data for the PWE were collected. Statistical analysis was performed to compare PWE and caregiver QOL before and after surgery.
Results: Mean patient age was 37 years. Most (77%) suffered from symptomatic partial epilepsy for approximately 18 years prior to surgery, averaging 4 seizures per month and 2.2 antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). 78% of them underwent an anterior temporal lobectomy and the rest extra-temporal resections. On follow up at approximately 9 months, 69% had a surgical outcome of Engel class I, 23% of class II and 8% class IV. Postoperatively, the PWE remained on average on 1.9 AEDs. There was a statistically significant improvement for both the aggregate QOLIE-31 score and all its subscales (except for medication effects) as well as the BAI scores. 96% of the PWE felt that the decision to go through surgery was worthwhile. Mean caregivers age was 47 years. Half of them were spouses to the PWE and the majority of the rest their parents. 50% of them stated that their overall time devoted to patient's care decreased after surgery and 50% that it remained unchanged. The mental component scale (SF36v2, MCS) of caregiver QOL showed statistically significant improvement. ZCBI score and the physical component scale of their QOL (SF36v2, PCS) did not significantly vary before and after surgery. 75% of caregivers deemed their QOL better post surgery vs 19% similar. 94% of the caregivers felt that the decision to go through surgery was worthwhile.
Conclusions: Successful epilepsy surgery has a positive impact not only to patient QOL but also to their caregiver. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first pilot study to systematically address the impact of epilepsy surgery on caregivers providing additional support to epilepsy surgery as the optimal treatment modality in carefully selected patients. These findings call for further investigation on the caregiver quality of life in epilepsy and for its inclusion in the treatment plan and quality indicators for epilepsy surgery.
Keywords: Burden; Caregiver; Epilepsy; Quality of life; SF36v2; Surgery.
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