Medium-term changes in patients with epilepsy during the COVID-19 pandemic

TitleMedium-term changes in patients with epilepsy during the COVID-19 pandemic
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsGonzalez-Martinez, A., Á. Planchuelo-Gómez, A. Vieira Campos, F. Martínez-Dubarbie, J. Vivancos, and M. De Toledo-Heras
JournalActa Neurologica Scandinavica
KeywordsAnxiety, COVID-19, Sleep, epilepsy, pandemic, quality of life

Objectives: The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has led to social distancing measures and impaired medical care of chronic neurological diseases, including epilepsy, which may have adversely affected well-being and quality of life of patients with epilepsy (PWE). The objective of this study is to evaluate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the levels of anxiety, depression, somnolence, and quality of life using validated scales in PWE in real-life clinical practice.

Materials & Methods: Self-administered scales of anxiety disorders (GAD-7), depression (NDDI-E), somnolence (Epworth Sleepiness Scale; ESS), and quality of life (QOLIE-31-P) in PWE treated in a Refractory Epilepsy Unit were longitudinally analyzed. Data were collected before the beginning (December 2019-March 2020) and during the COVID-19 pandemic (September 2020-January 2021).

Results: 158 patients (85 from the first round and 73 from the second round) 45.0 +- 17.3 years of age, 43.2% women, epilepsy duration 23.0 +- 14.9 years, number of antiepileptic drugs 2.1 +- 1.4, completed the survey. Significant longitudinal reduction of QOLIE-31-P (from 58.9 +- 19.7 to 56.2 +- 16.2, p = 0.035) and GAD-7 scores (from 8.8 +- 6.2 to 8.3 +- 5.9, corrected p = .024) was identified. No statistically significant longitudinal changes in the number of seizures (from 0.9 +- 1.9 to 2.5 +- 6.2, p = .125) or NDDI-E scores (from 12.3 +- 4.3 to 13.4 +- 4.4, p = .065) were found. Significant longitudinal increase of ESS (from 4.9 +- 3.7 to 7.4 +- 4.9, p = .001) was found.

Conclusions: During the COVID-19 pandemic, quality of life and anxiety levels were lower in PWE, and sleepiness levels were raised, without seizure change.