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Keywords:

  • antiepileptic drugs;
  • epidemiology;
  • epidemiological methods;
  • epilepsy;
  • prevalence

D’Souza WJ, Quinn SJ, Fryer JL, Taylor BV, Ficker DM, O’Brien TJ, Pearce N, Cook MJ. The prevalence and demographic distribution of treated epilepsy: a community-based study in Tasmania, Australia. Acta Neurol Scand: 2012: 125: 96–104. © 2011 John Wiley & Sons A/S.

Objectives –  To estimate the prevalence and demographic distribution of treated epilepsy in a community-based population.

Materials & methods –  We surveyed all residents in Tasmania, Australia, who were supplied at least one antiepileptic drug prescription between July 1, 2001 and June 30, 2002, recorded on the national prescription database. We adjusted for the effect of disease-related non-response bias by imputation methods.

Results –  After three mail contacts, 54.0% (4072/7541) responded, with 1774 (43.6%) indicating treatment for epilepsy, representing 86.0% of the estimated total possible cases in Tasmania. The adjusted treated epilepsy prevalence was 4.36 per 1000 (95% CI 4.34, 4.39); lower in women (prevalence ratio 0.92 (95% CI 0.84, 1.00)); greater with increasing age (P < 0.001); similar in the three main geographic regions; and similar with socioeconomic status of postcode of residence.

Conclusions –  Although our estimates are likely to be affected by access to health services, overall treated epilepsy prevalence of 4.4 per 1000 is similar to previous studies. Our finding of high elderly prevalence has been reported in a few recent studies in developed countries and has important clinical and public health implications in populations with similar aging demographics.