Cluster reduction in patients in a pilot treatment trial for psychogenic nonepileptic seizures

Epilepsy Behav. 2017 Aug;73:273-279. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2017.04.015. Epub 2017 Jun 16.


Introduction: The present study examined seizure clusters as a primary outcome in patients receiving treatment for PNES. Cluster reduction is examined longitudinally using frequency threshold and statistical definitions of seizure cluster for patients. Possible risk factors for clustering will be examined along with clustering as a risk factor for poorer secondary outcomes.

Methods: Participants were from a pilot randomized treatment trial for PNES where they received cognitive behavioral therapy-informed psychotherapy (CBT-ip), sertraline, combination therapy, or treatment as usual. Seizure data are from patients' seizure dairies.

Results: Cluster reduction was observed for those receiving CBT-ip or combination treatment using all definitions of daily clusters and weekly clusters. No risk factors of clustering were observed. Those who were identified as having clusters during the trial had poorer secondary outcomes on several measures at baseline relative to those who were not identified as having clusters.

Discussion: This is the first study known to the authors to not only examined seizure clusters as a primary outcome for those with PNES, but also the first study to suggest that CBT-ip and combination therapy may be effective in reducing the frequency of clusters.

Keywords: Cluster; Cluster reduction; PNES; Seizure clustering; Seizures; Treatment trial.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / drug therapy
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / psychology
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / therapy*
  • Risk Factors
  • Seizures / drug therapy
  • Seizures / psychology
  • Seizures / therapy*
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Sertraline / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors
  • Sertraline