Refractory epilepsy and nonadherence to drug treatment


Publication date


Series/Report no

Epilepsia Open;Volume 4, Issue 4,December 2019



Document type


In patients with epilepsy, nonadherence to agreed antiepileptic drug (AED) treatment may result in seizure relapse, and at worst sudden unexpected death. The aim of this study was to examine the extent of both unintentional and intentional nonadherence among Norwegian patients with refractory epilepsy and try to identify possible risk factors. At the National Centre for Epilepsy in Norway, 333 consecutive adult in‐ and outpatients with refractory epilepsy participated in an anonymous survey about adherence to drug treatment. Twenty‐two percentages admitted that they sometimes or often forgot to take their drugs as scheduled, and 19% reported that they, rarely, sometimes or often intentionally did not follow the AED treatment plan agreed upon with their physician. Young age and depression were significantly correlated with unintentional nonadherence. Intentional nonadherence was associated with young age (36 years or younger). We found nonadherence not to be associated with any specific AED. In conclusion, about one‐fifth of patients with refractory epilepsy admitted that they did not adhere to the agreed drug treatment plan, either intentionally or unintentionally. Measures to reduce nonadherence in this patient group may improve seizure control and should be tailored to address both unintentional and intentional lack of adherence.




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