January 6, 2021

Why Child Neurologists Talk About SUDEP: Results From Two Cross-Sectional Surveys

Summary, originally published in Epilepsia Open

Objective: To characterize SUDEP discussion practices of child neurologists approximately 6- and 12 months after publication of the American Academy of Neurology SUDEP Clinical Practice Guideline and explore factors associated with discussion practice.

Methods: Child Neurology Society members (~2450) were electronically surveyed in November 2017 and May 2018 regarding their practice of discussing SUDEP with patients with epilepsy or their caregivers. Multivariable proportional odds ordinal logistic regression evaluated factors associated with discussing SUDEP with a greater proportion of epilepsy patients/caregivers. Reasons for changing practice were described.

Results: Among the 369 child neurologist respondents, 36% reported discussing SUDEP with at least half of their epilepsy patients/caregivers including 12% who discuss with all or almost all (>90%) of their epilepsy patients/families. Those who discussed SUDEP with an increased proportion of their patients were more likely to agree that they knew enough to talk about SUDEP, agree that healthcare providers have an ethical obligation to discuss SUDEP, and disagree that there isn’t enough time to talk about SUDEP. Those who agreed SUDEP could provoke excessive anxiety or worry were less likely to discuss SUDEP with an increased proportion of their patients. Reading the SUDEP Clinical Practice Guideline was a frequently cited reason among respondents who reported a recent change in discussion practice.

Significance: Most child neurologists do not follow the current SUDEP Clinical Practice Guideline regarding SUDEP discussion. Feeling sufficiently knowledgeable and ethically obligated to discuss SUDEP were associated with increased discussion practice, suggesting an educational intervention may be effective at increasing SUDEP discussion rates.