Health behaviors among people with epilepsy--results from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey

Epilepsy Behav. 2015 Mar;44:121-6. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2015.01.011. Epub 2015 Feb 10.


Objectives: This study aimed to estimate and compare the prevalence of selected health behavior-alcohol use, cigarette smoking, physical activity, and sufficient sleep-between people with and without a history of epilepsy in a large, nationally representative sample in the United States.

Methods: We used data from the 2010 cross-sectional National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) to compare the prevalence of each health behavior for people with and without epilepsy while adjusting for sex, age, race/ethnicity, and family income. We also further categorized those with epilepsy into active epilepsy and inactive epilepsy and calculated their corresponding prevalences.

Results: The percentages of adults with a history of epilepsy (50.1%, 95% CI=45.1%-55.2%) and with active epilepsy (44.4%, 95% CI=37.6%-51.5%) who were current alcohol drinkers were significantly lower than that of those without epilepsy (65.1%, 95% CI=64.2%-66.0%). About 21.8% (95% CI=18.1%-25.9%) of adults with epilepsy and 19.3% (95% CI=18.7%-19.9%) of adults without epilepsy were current smokers. Adults with active epilepsy were significantly less likely than adults without epilepsy to report following recommended physical activity guidelines for Americans (35.2%, 95% CI=28.8%-42.1% vs. 46.3%, 95% CI=45.4%-47.2%) and to report walking for at least ten minutes during the seven days prior to being surveyed (39.6%, 95% CI=32.3%-47.4% vs. 50.8%, 95% CI=49.9%-51.7%). The percentage of individuals with active epilepsy (49.8%, 95% CI=42.0%-57.7%) who reported sleeping an average of 7 or 8h a day was significantly lower than that of those without epilepsy (61.9%, 95% CI=61.2%-62.7%).

Conclusions: Because adults with epilepsy are significantly less likely than adults without epilepsy to engage in recommended levels of physical activity and to get the encouraged amount of sleep for optimal health and well-being, promoting more safe physical activity and improved sleep quality is necessary among adults with epilepsy. Ending tobacco use and maintaining low levels of alcohol consumption would also better the health of adults with epilepsy.

Keywords: Alcohol use; Epilepsy; Health behaviors; National Health Interview Survey; Physical activity; Sleep pattern; Smoking behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Epilepsy / epidemiology
  • Epilepsy / psychology*
  • Ethnic Groups
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity*
  • Prevalence
  • Sleep
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult