Anti-epileptic drug changes and quality of life in the community

M. Wassenaar, F.S.S. Leijten, J.W. Sander, S.G. Uijl, A.C.G. Egberts

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Objective: Changes in anti-epileptic drug (AED) regimens may indicate unsatisfactory treatment results such as insufficient seizure control or adverse effects. This inference underlies epilepsy management and research, yet current studies often do not account for AED changes. We assessed AED change patterns and their association with quality of life (QoL), as main outcome measure, in a community-based setting. Methods: We assessed a cohort of 248 people with epilepsy identified from community pharmacy records from whom we retrieved AED dispensing history. We assessed all changes in AED use during the 2 years prior to the index date and current QoL using the validated Dutch QOLIE-31 questionnaire. Results: Thirty-one per cent had at least one AED change during the study period, either in drug type or dose. People who changed showed significantly lower QoL (QOLIE score 73 vs 79), especially those who intensified their treatment. Each additional change was associated with a further reduction of 4.9 points in QoL score. Conclusions: AED changes are common practice, even in people with long-standing epilepsy. Frequent changes, as objective measure of epilepsy severity, are associated with a progressively lower QoL. Changes, even in dose, should be monitored in daily clinical practice and used as a red flag that may require adjustments in epilepsy management. This may include earlier referral to a specialized centre for a more thorough evaluation or counselling. AED changes can also be used as an outcome marker in epilepsy research as a proxy of QoL for better translation of drug-efficacy results to general practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-426
JournalActa Neurologica Scandinavica
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Anti-epileptic drug
  • Epilepsy
  • Management
  • Quality of life
  • Treatment
  • adverse drug reaction
  • clinical practice
  • community
  • counseling
  • drug efficacy
  • epilepsy
  • general practice
  • human
  • pharmacy
  • quality of life
  • questionnaire
  • seizure
  • anticonvulsive agent
  • marker


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