Assessing the psychosocial consequences of epilepsy: A community-based study

M. F. O'Donoghue*, D. M.G. Goodridge, K. Redhead, J. W.A.S. Sander, John Duncan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

155 Citations (Scopus)


Background. Few studies have measured, using validated scales, the psychosocial handicap of epilepsy in a general practice setting. Aim. To assess the prevalence of psychosocial problems associated with epilepsy. Method. A survey was undertaken of 309 subjects, with one or more non-febrile epileptic seizures, drawn from two general practices in the United Kingdom (UK). The outcome measures were the Subjective Handicap of Epilepsy Scale (SHE), the SF-36, and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale (HAD). Results. One-third of persons with active epilepsy were significantly handicapped by their condition. The severity of subjective handicap was related to seizure frequency and to the duration of remission of seizures. Between one-third and one-half of subjects scored as 'cases' on the HAD scale and on the mental health subscale of the SF-36. Only one-third of the psychiatric morbidity revealed by the questionnaires had been recognized by the general practitioner (GP). Scores on the SF-36 indicated that people with active seizures perceived themselves as significantly less healthy than those in remission, and that, for persons in remission, drug treatment had a detrimental effect on certain aspects of well-being. Conclusions. The occurrence of seizures, even at low frequencies, is associated with psychosocial handicap, and this may remain covert in general practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-214
Number of pages4
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Issue number440
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Epilepsy
  • Handicap
  • Health status


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