Medium‐term effects of COVID‐19 pandemic on epilepsy: A follow‐up study

Abstract

Objective

To analyze the medium‐term impact of the COVID‐19 pandemic on epilepsy patients, focusing on psychological effects and seizure control.

Methods

Prospective follow‐up study to evaluate the medium‐term effects of the COVID‐19 pandemic on a cohort of epilepsy patients from a tertiary hospital previously surveyed during the first peak of the pandemic. Between July 1, 2020, and August 30, 2020, the patients answered an online 19‐item questionnaire, HADS, and PSIQ scales. Short‐ and medium‐term effects of the pandemic confinement and the perception of telemedicine were compared.

Results

153 patients completed the questionnaire, mean ± SD age, 47.6 ± 19.3 years; 49.7% women. Depression was reported by 43 patients, significantly more prevalent than in the short‐term analysis (29.2% vs. 19.7%; p = .038). Anxiety (38.1% vs. 36.1%; p = 0.749) and insomnia (28.9% vs. 30.9%, p = .761) remained highly prevalent. Seventeen patients reported an increase in seizure frequency (11.1% vs. 9.1%, p = .515). The three factors independently associated with an increase in seizure frequency in the medium term were drug‐resistant epilepsy (odds ratio [OR] = 8.2, 95% CI 2.06–32.52), depression (OR = 6.46, 95% CI 1.80–23.11), and a reduction in income (OR = 5.47, 95% CI 1.51–19.88). A higher proportion of patients found telemedicine unsatisfactory (11.2% vs. 2.4%), and a lower percentage (44.8% vs. 56.8%) found it very satisfactory (p = .005).

Conclusions

Depression rates increased significantly after the first wave. Depression, drug‐resistant epilepsy, and a reduction in family income were independent risk factors for an increased seizure frequency. Perception of telemedicine worsened, indicating need for re‐adaptation.

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