Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people with epilepsy: findings from the US arm of the COV-E study.
Dugan P., Carroll E., Thorpe J., Jette N., Agarwal P., Ashby S., Hanna J., French J., Devinsky O., Sen A., COVID-19 Epilepsy COV-E Study Group None.
OBJECTIVES: As part of the COVID-19 and Epilepsy (COV-E) global study, we aimed to understand the impact of COVID-19 on the medical care and well-being of people with epilepsy (PWE) in the United States, based on their perspectives and those of their caregivers. METHODS: Separate surveys designed for PWE and their caregivers were circulated from April 2020 to July 2021; modifications in March 2021 included a question about COVID-19 vaccination status. RESULTS: We received 788 responses, 71% from PWE (n = 559) and 29% (n=229) from caregivers of persons with epilepsy. A third (n = 308) of respondents reported a change in their health or in the health of the person they care for. Twenty-seven percent (n = 210) reported issues related to worsening mental health. Of respondents taking ASMs (n = 769), 10% (n= 78) reported difficulty taking medications on time, mostly due to stress causing forgetfulness. Less than half of respondents received counseling on mental health and stress. Less than half of the PWE reported having discussions with their healthcare providers about sleep, ASMs and potential side effects, while a larger proportion of caregivers (81%) reported having had discussions with their healthcare providers on the same topics. More PWE and caregivers reported that COVID-19 related measures caused adverse impact on their health in the post-vaccine period than during the pre-vaccine period, citing mental health issues as the primary reason. SIGNIFICANCE: Our findings indicate that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US on PWE is multifaceted. Apart from the increased risk of poor COVID-19 outcomes, the pandemic has also had negative effects on mental health and self-management. Healthcare providers must be vigilant for increased emotional distress in PWE during the pandemic and consider the importance of effective counseling to diminish risks related to exacerbated treatment gaps.