helpline 01494 601 400
4 March 2016

Study shows many people with epilepsy do not take AEDs as directed by doctors

A recent study has found that a large proportion of people with epilepsy are not taking their medication as directed by their doctors.

The study, conducted at the Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences and Oslo University Hospital, aimed to investigate whether prescribed antiepileptic drug (AED) treatment regimens match what patients actually take. It also sought to explore challenges in treatment and the reasons for any discrepancies.

A group of 174 patients and their physicians at Norway’s National Centre for Epilepsy were asked to complete a questionnaire asking about their AEDs and dosages.  Twenty of the subjects were also interviewed face-to-face.

The results, published in the medical journal Acta Neurologica Scandinavica, showed that for 32 per cent of participants, there was a discrepancy between the dose prescribed and what was actually taken by the patient.

Of the 56 individuals who did not follow their prescriptions directly, some failed to comply with the recommended dose, while in other cases patients and their physicians were found to disagree on which drug they were being prescribed (suggesting a problem with communication).

These discrepancies were seen for all of the top ten most commonly-used drugs, and for each one, a similar distribution of patients reported that they had either exceeded or fallen short of the recommended dosage.

The face-to-face interviews helped to expose some of the concerns and challenges of AED treatment. The most common issues said to interfere with adherence were unpleasant side effects and the need to take more than one type of drug as part of their prescription. This finding is not new, but it adds to evidence that more can be done to encourage patients to comply with their treatment.

The research concluded: “Improved communication and information about AEDs may improve adherence and thus treatment outcome.”