Risk Factors for Poor Health-Related Quality of Life in Adolescents with Epilepsy


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. O. Devinsky at NYU-Mt. Sinai Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, 560 First Avenue-Rivergate 4th Floor, New York, NY 10016, U.S.A.


Summary: Purpose: To examine potential risk factors for poor health-related quality of life (HRQOL) among adolescents with epilepsy by using the newly developed QOLIE-AD-48. Risk factors were derived from sociodemographic, social, academic, and epilepsy- and health-related domains.

Methods: The QOLIE-AD-48 was administered to 197 English-speaking adolescents (age 11–17 years from >20 sites in the United States and in Canada). The self-report instrument yields an overall HRQOL score and eight subscale scores. Other data were obtained from family interviews, physician reports, and health records. Multiple regression analyses were conducted to study risk factors for impairment of HRQOL.

Results: Older adolescents (age 14–17 years), those with more severe epilepsy and more symptoms of neurotoxicity, and those living in households with lower socioeconomic status were more likely to report poor overall HRQOL. Risk factors in the eight HRQOL domains were found as follows: (a) Epilepsy Impact: older age in adolescence, more severe epilepsy and neurotoxicity, more hospitalizations during the past year, and fewer hours of extracurricular activities; (b) Memory and Concentration: longer duration of epilepsy, special education classes, and history of repeating a grade in school; (c) Attitude Toward Illness: older age, female gender, and more severe epilepsy and neurotoxicity; (d) Social Support: younger age, male gender, and fewer hospitalizations in the last year; (e) Stigma: lower socioeconomic status and special-education classes; and (f) Health Perceptions: older age, female gender, and lower socioeconomic status. None of the factors examined was significantly associated with HRQOL in (g) Physical Functioning or (h) School Behavior subscales.

Conclusions: We identified several risk factors for poor HRQOL outcomes in adolescents with epilepsy. Age, increased seizure severity, and neurotoxicity were most consistently associated with poor HRQOL across domains. Older adolescents, independent of epilepsy severity, reported worse overall HRQOL than did their younger counterparts. Older adolescents also were more likely to perceive a greater negative impact on life and general health, and had more negative attitudes toward epilepsy. Adolescent boys and girls may show different sensitivities to various quality-of-life domains.