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Keywords:

  • Epilepsy;
  • Psychiatric comorbidity;
  • Community;
  • Health service utilization

Summary

We aimed to determine the level of psychological distress in community-treated patients with epilepsy and to determine if this distress is associated with increased health service use. The Australian National prescription database was used to recruit patients with epilepsy onto the Tasmanian Epilepsy Register (TER). Psychological distress was measured using the K10 in the TER patients and compared to the Tasmanian population using the National Health Survey 2004–5. Of the 1,180 on the TER, 43 withdrew, 36 died, and 262 were excluded. Of 839 patients, 652 completed the K10 (78%). High–very high levels of psychological distress were observed in patients with epilepsy compared with the general population [odds ratio (OR) 2.14, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.79–2.56]. Patients with high–very high psychological distress had increased attendance at general practitioners (p < 0.001), specialists (p = 0.02), and emergency departments (p = 0.004). Psychological distress is increased in community-treated patients with epilepsy compared to the general population, and is associated with increased health service use.