The impact of epilepsy on health status among younger and older adults

Mary Jo V. Pugh, Laurel A. Copeland, John E. Zeber, Joyce A. Cramer, Megan E. Amuan, Jose E. Cavazos, Lewis E. Kazis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


Purpose: The incidence of epilepsy is highest among the elderly, yet our understanding of the impact of epilepsy is based predominantly on inferences from studies of younger adults. This study examines the impact of epilepsy on patients' subjective health status in a population that includes both younger and older adults. Methods: We used national administrative and survey databases from the Veterans Health Administration to examine health status as measured by a modification of the SF-36 (RV-36) in patients from three age cohorts: young adults (18-40 years), middle-aged adults (41-64 years), and older adults (65 years and older). Because chronicity of epilepsy may influence these outcomes, we compared scores for patients with new-onset epilepsy, chronic epilepsy, and no epilepsy by using analysis of covariance, controlling for patient demographic and clinical characteristics that may also affect health status. Results: With the exception of physical status measures, older adults appeared to cope better with their epilepsy than did middle-aged patients. Young adults with new-onset epilepsy reported poor general health and worse mental health, but high levels of physical function and physical activity. Middle-aged patients with new-onset epilepsy scored lowest in all domains, and their peers with chronic epilepsy also reported poor general physical health and emotional functioning. Conclusions: Although having fewer physiologic reserves, older adults appeared most resilient in facing this chronic illness, and middle-aged adults fared the worst. Interventions to improve quality of life among patients with epilepsy should be tailored to age and epilepsy chronicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1820-1827
Number of pages8
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2005


  • Aging
  • Developmental psychology
  • Epilepsy
  • Health status
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology


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