Epilepsy self-management intervention strategies ‘need to be improved’

Teenagers engaging in a role play exercise. Ref: calmtbd.blogspot.com

A new UK-led study has suggested that more effective epilepsy self-management interventions need to be devised for young people.

Spearheaded by Bangor University, the research – published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing – took data from a total of 19 studies to determine the effectiveness of current epilepsy self-management interventions, as well as exploring the views and experiences of medication and seizures among children and young people.

Currently, the seizures and side effects associated with antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) can have negative impacts on the effectiveness of children’s epilepsy self-management, with many avoiding taking their medication as prescribed and engaging in unhealthy lifestyles as a result.

However, the new study indicated that current approaches at interventions against such behaviour are not having the desired impact. Of the nine intervention studies involved in the assessment, none showed improvement in AED adherence, while they were also methodologically weak, as no studies reported if improvement in self-management was sustained over time.

Although skill-based behavioural techniques – involving activities such as role play and goal setting – increased epilepsy knowledge and seizure self-management among young people, the effects were generally shown to be small.

It was also indicated that there was a general lack of solid alignment between intervention programme theories and the aspects of medication self-management and dealing with the effects of epilepsy that children and young people actually found to be most difficult.

The researchers concluded: “Children and young people knowingly and/or unknowingly take risks with their epilepsy and give reasoned explanations for doing so. There are no effective interventions to change epilepsy medication adherence behaviours.

“There is an urgent need for more innovative and individually tailored interventions to address specific challenges to epilepsy self-management as identified by children and young people themselves.”

Although epilepsy can start at any age, it generally begins during childhood, making it important to ensure young people with the condition are being treated as effectively as possible.

Posted by Steve Long