May 17, 2021

Influence of COVID-19 Pandemic on Quality of Life in Patients With Epilepsy – Follow-Up Study

Abstract, originally published in Epilepsy & Behavior

Objective: To perform a follow-up study of the quality of life in patients with epilepsy in the era of the COVID-19 crisis.

Methods: Two months before the first case of the COVID-19 in Serbia, we obtained the Serbian Version of Quality of Life Inventory for Epilepsy 31 (SVQOLIE-31) and Neurological Disorders Depression Inventory for Epilepsy scores (SVNDDI-E) for another study. We retested the same patients one year after in COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to SVQOLIE-31, and SVNDDI-E we used a generic questionnaire compiled from items related to the COVID-19.

Results: We retested 97 out of 118 patients (82.2%) for the follow-up analysis. The average age was 36.1 ± 12.2 (range: 18-69), and 49 were women (50.5%). The median duration of epilepsy was 13 years (range: 1.5-48). The structural etiology of epilepsy was noted in 41 (42.3%), unknown etiology in 41 (42.3%), and genetic etiology in 15 (15.4%) patients. Fewer patients (27.8%) experienced at least one seizure three months before follow-up testing when compared to patients who experienced at least one seizure three months in initial testing (36.0%) (p = 0.15). All patients reported full compliance with anti-seizure medication in the follow-up. The SVQOLIE-31 score during the COVID-19 pandemic visit (64.5 ± 14.6) was significantly lower than the SVQOLIE-31 score before the pandemic (p < 0.001). The SVNDDI-E score during the COVID-19 pandemic (10.5 ± 3.5) was significantly higher than the SVNDDI-E score before it (p < 0.001). Multiple linear regression analyses revealed fear of seizures, and fear of a reduction in household income, significantly associated with SVQOLIE-31 and SVNDDI-E overall score. These variables accounted for 66% and 27% of the variance of SVQOLIE-31 and SVNDDI-E overall score.

Significance: Lower quality of life, higher prevalence of depression, healthcare availability issues, and perceived fears during pandemic all suggest COVID-19 has negatively impacted lives of patients with epilepsy.