Purpose: The medical benefits of epilepsy surgery are well documented, but the psychosocial consequences of surgery have received less attention. This is especially true of the roles of expectations and satisfaction in postsurgery functioning. The present study was designed to examine the relationships between expectation, satisfaction with surgery, and psychosocial functioning in patients and their significant others before and after epilepsy surgery.
Methods: The neuropsychology findings of 79 patients undergoing epilepsy surgery were examined from assessments made before, 2 months after, and 1 year after anterior temporal lobectomy (ATL) was performed. The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) and the Washington Psychosocial Seizure Inventory (WPSI) were used to assess psychosocial functioning. A subset of 32 patients and their significant others were followed prospectively with an additional semistructured interview to assess expectations for and satisfaction with surgery outcome.
Results: Before surgery, patients showed considerable problems with psychosocial adjustment. After surgery, patients in the seizure-free group showed improvements on the psychosocial measures at both follow-ups, whereas patients with continued seizures showed improvement at the 2-month follow-up and then a decline to baseline or worse at the time of the 1-year follow-up. Subjects who were studied prospectively had high presurgery expectations for seizure elimination. After surgery, subjects whose expectations were met reported high satisfaction whereas subjects whose expectations were not met reported low satisfaction. Satisfaction with surgery was associated with better psychosocial functioning.
Conclusions: Such data help elucidate the ways in which successful epilepsy surgery results in improved psychosocial functioning. The results identify ways to increase the likelihood that both patients who are seizure-free and those with reduced seizure frequency may benefit from surgery.