Purpose: To study the impact of epilepsy and its treatment on people with epilepsy in Europe. We therefore aimed to collect data from as many countries as possible.
Methods: Clinical and demographic details and information about psychosocial functioning was collected using self-completed questionnaires mailed to members of epilepsy support groups.
Results: Quality of life data was collected from >5,000 patients living in 15 countries in Europe. Over a third of all respondents had frequent seizures, and a fifth believed that their seizures were not well enough controlled by antiepileptic medication. Reported levels of side effects from medication were high. A significant number of respondents reported changing their medication because of side effects or poor control. Respondents reported that epilepsy and its treatment had a significant impact on a number of different aspects of their daily lives. Half of all respondents felt stigmatised by their epilepsy. There were significant differences by seizure type and frequency in the way respondents scored on measures of the perceived impact of their condition, the stigma associated with it and their health status as measured by a generic scale, the SF36.
Conclusions: This study confirms the findings of previous smaller-scale studies that reducing side effects and achieving better control of seizures are key to improving the quality of life of people with epilepsy, as is reducing the stigma and handicap associated with it.