Epilepsy Information


Quality of life and psychological dysfunction in traumatized and nontraumatized patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES).

Authors: Boesten N, Myers L, Wijnen B.

Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) have the appearance of epileptic seizures, yet show no epileptiform discharges in the brain. The quality of life (QOL) in patients with PNES is reportedly low and trauma eems to be a relevant risk factor. The objective of this study was to examine the difference between measures of (epilepsy-specific) QOL (Quality of Life in Epilepsy Inventory; QOLIE-31p) and psychological dysfunction (trauma symptom inventory; TSI) between patients with diagnosed PNES with self-reported trauma and those without self-reported trauma.


Patients whose PNES diagnoses were through video-electroencephalogram (EEG) monitoring at the Northeast Regional Epilepsy Group between 2008 and 2018 were included. Patients who reported to have a history of psychological trauma and those who did not were assigned to separate groups. Scores from the TSI and QOLIE-31p were compared by using multivariate analysis of covariance.

The total sample was comprised of 217 adult patients, 148 of which self-reported as having experienced psychological trauma in the past and 69 who did not report any psychological trauma. Traumatized patients significantly differed in terms of QOL and TSI from nontraumatized patients. Traumatized patients were demonstrated to have lower scores on the subdomain "energy" of the QOLIE-31p and the total QOLIE-31p score compared to the nontraumatized group. Similarly, the traumatized group had significantly higher scores on nearly all TSI subscales with the exception of suicidality, sexual disturbances, and somatization.

This study demonstrated significant differences between patients with PNES who have been psychologically traumatized and those who have not. In particular, patients with a history of psychological trauma present greater psychopathology and would possibly benefit from rapid identification and referral to trauma-based therapy. In turn, this may result in a reduction of disease burden, increase QOL, and a reduction in healthcare costs resulting from diagnostic delays and implementation of less targeted treatments.