Epilepsy Information

American Epilepsy Society (Abst. 1.217)

Depression and quality of life in hispanic immigrants and us born epilepsy patients

Authors: M. A. Bonafina, M. Lancman, L. Myers, O. Laban, E. Feoli, E. Fertig, M. Lancman

Studies suggest that mood and anxiety disorders are more frequent among patients with epilepsy than in the general population. Mood and anxiety disorders are typically associated with indices of a poorer quality of life (QOL). The purpose of this study is to determine whether Hispanic immigrants with epilepsy present higher rates of depression and anxiety and reports of a lower quality of life than US-born epilepsy patients.


The sample included 28 Hispanic immigrants and 27 controls (US born patients with epilepsy) who completed the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II), Beck Anxiety inventory (BAI), Quality of Life Inventory-31 (QOLIE-31), the Woodcock-Munoz Bateria (BIA), and the Wechsler Abbreviated Scales of Intelligence (WASI). Patients with associated non-epileptic seizures were excluded. A structured chart review was performed to select epilepsy, social, and psychological variables.

Of the 28 Hispanic patients, 8 were males and 20 females. For Hispanics, the mean age at the time of study was 44.28 ±3.029 years, mean education was 10.00 ±.768, mean age of epilepsy onset was 25.90 ±3.687. For the control group, 10 were males and 17 females. The mean age was 35.75 ±1.861 (p=0.021) and mean education was 13.15 ±.449. Educational attainment differed significantly between groups (p=0.001). Age of onset was 16.00 ±1.822 which is significantly younger than in the Hispanic group (p=0.026). The mean age at the time of testing was also significantly different (Hispanics: 44.28 ±3.029 and control group: 35.75 ±1.981). When BDI raw scores were compared, the Hispanic group mean was 24.71 ±3.098 and the control group mean was 14.61 ±2.143 (t=-2.742, p=0.008). In fact, 25/28 Hispanics (89%) BDI scores fell in the moderate to severe range of depression while the control group did so in 11/27 (41%). No significant differences were noted between the groups on QOLIE Total, Emotional Well-being, Social, Energy or Cognitive subscales. Of interest, on Emotional Well-Being, over 60 percent of respondents in both groups received a clinically impaired score on this subscale. No significant differences were noted between groups on a measure of anxiety (BAI). Intellectual functioning was significantly lower among Hispanic patients compared to the American group (BIA SS=79.75 ±2.208, WASI SS=91.35 ±2.562, t=-3.443, p=0.001). However, given that the tests used in both languages are different, the comparability of standard scores between the two is questionable.

Hispanics with epilepsy reported significantly higher levels of depression than controls. The two groups showed equally poor Emotional Well-being (QOLIE-31) but did not differ significantly on this or other indices, or on anxiety. This suggests that both groups have an equally diminished quality of life, while a significantly higher number of Hispanics also qualify for clinical depression. This supports that direct assessment for mood pathology should be regularly conducted in this subpopulation.