Epilepsy in an Italian community as assessed by a survey for prescriptions of antiepileptic drugs: epidemiology and patterns of care


Dr. Giorgio Giuliani, Department of Neurology, Hospital “Torrette”, Via Conca, 60020, Ancona, Italy


The prescriptions of antiepileptic drugs in the years 1985 and 1986 were used to identify all possible cases of epilepsy in a population of about 50000 people. The general practitioners of the study area filled out a questionnaire for each user of antiepileptic drugs registered as a patient of theirs. This information was integrated using data obtained by local specialist services or directly collected by visits and/or phone interviews. Two-hundred and fifty-six of the 417 antiepileptic drug users proved to be active epileptics with a prevalence rate of 5.2/1000, the annual incidence rate for 1986 being 51.8/100000. The main patterns of the disease appeared to be consistent with those of the literature while the prior history of seizures in the previous five years was generally lower. The health care of epileptic patients involved a wide range of specialists. The general practitioners were responsible for the final diagnosis of epilepsy in 10% of patients and for the management of the disease in 22%, most of the patients being over 50 years old. The calculated mean prescribed daily doses of the antiepileptic drugs suggested that many epileptics were taking therapeutic schedules lower than those of the literature.