In March, our summer intern, Nadine Boesten, together with her supervisors Ben Wijnen and Lorna Myers published an article with the following title: “Quality of life and psychological dysfunction in traumatized and nontraumatized patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES).”
This study aimed to examine whether there are distinct subgroups within those who have psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES). Whilst a lot of previous research focused on the differences between epilepsy and PNES patients or has considered PNES as a whole, less attention has been paid to the identification of subgroups within PNES patients. This seems to be relatively new approach, with only a few studies having touched upon this.
In this study, we compared PNES patients with trauma with those without trauma on scales of the Trauma Symptom Inventory (TSI) and the Quality of Life in Epilepsy Inventory (QOLIE-31p). We hypothesized that these two groups would especially differ on the TSI and might also differ on certain measures of quality of life.
Confirming our hypotheses, we found that there was a significant difference in scores of traumatized patients on the two measures in comparison to the non-traumatized group. For example, traumatized patients scored much lower on the Energy (i.e. feeling energetic and active) and the overall score subscales of the QOLIE-31p and much higher on the TSI. This showed us that traumatized patients therefore were reporting a lower quality of life and showed more symptoms of psychological dysfunction.
These results suggested to us that PNES patients with a history of psychological trauma, might benefit from rapid identification and referral to treatment. Because they differed from other patients with PNES, it is reasonable to recommend their referral to some form of trauma-based therapy since their history of trauma seems to make them distinct. Provision of timely and adequate care could increase the quality of life of these patients, decrease disease burden and cause a reduction in healthcare costs resulting from diagnostic delays.