A cross-sectional survey on French psychiatrists' knowledge and perceptions of psychogenic nonepileptic seizures

Epilepsy Behav. 2016 Jul:60:21-26. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2016.04.023. Epub 2016 May 10.


Objective: The principal aim of the study was two-fold: to determine French psychiatrists' level of general knowledge of psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) and to evaluate their perceptions of this condition in a standardized way. The secondary aim was to describe the relationship between level of education and knowledge of PNES and level of experience of case management and perceptions of PNES.

Methods: In this study, psychiatrists were invited by email to answer an online survey. The questionnaire asked about their general knowledge of PNES, and perceptions of PNES were scored using the Brief Illness Perception Questionnaire (Brief IPQ).

Results: We received 1242 replies, and data from 963 respondents were included. The survey revealed that three-quarters of psychiatrists working in France (75%) had never received any training on PNES, and 42% had never managed patients suffering from PNES. In general, participants considered PNES to be a chronic disease with significant impact on patients' quality of life. Although psychiatrists were aware of the importance of psychological trauma in the etiology of PNES, they showed only moderate understanding of this pathology. Terminology and classification of these disorders were poorly known, and the relation between PNES and histrionic personality was massively overvalued. Prior training on PNES was associated with a better level of knowledge and different perceptions of trained psychiatrists compared with that of psychiatrists with no prior training.

Conclusions: The condition of PNES remains relatively unknown to French psychiatrists, and some of their perceptions were inaccurate. Specific training seems essential for a better understanding of PNES.

Keywords: Formation; France; Knowledge; Perception; Psychiatrists; Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Electronic Mail
  • Female
  • France
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatry*
  • Seizures / psychology*
  • Seizures / therapy
  • Somatoform Disorders / etiology
  • Somatoform Disorders / psychology*
  • Somatoform Disorders / therapy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Wounds and Injuries / complications
  • Wounds and Injuries / psychology
  • Young Adult