Does screening for adverse effects improve health outcomes in epilepsy? A randomized trial

Valentina Franco, Maria Paola Canevini, Giovambattista De Sarro, Cinzia Fattore, Guido Fedele, Carlo Andrea Galimberti, Giuliana Gatti, Angela La Neve, Eleonora Rosati, Luigi Maria Specchio, Salvatore Striano, Paolo Tinuper, Emilio Perucca
Neurology 2020 June 29

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether systematic screening for adverse effects of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) reduces toxicity burden and improves health-related quality of life in patients with epilepsy.

METHODS: Consecutive patients with uncontrolled seizures aged ≥16 years and a high Adverse Event Profile (AEP) score were randomized to 2 groups and followed up for 18 months at 11 referral centers. AEP scores were made available to treating physicians at all visits in the intervention group, but not in the control group. Co-primary endpoints were changes in AEP scores and Quality of Life Inventory for Epilepsy-31 (QOLIE-31) scores.

RESULTS: Of 809 enrolled patients able to complete the AEP questionnaire, 222 had AEP scores ≥45 and were randomized to the intervention (n = 111) or control group (n = 111). A total of 206 patients completed the 18-month follow-up. Compared with baseline, AEP scores decreased on average by 7.2% at 6 months, 12.1% at 12 months, and 13.8% at 18 months in the intervention group ( p < 0.0001), and by 7.7% at 6 months, 9.2% at 12 months, and 12.0% at 18 months in controls ( p < 0.0001). QOLIE-31 scores also improved from baseline to final visit, with a mean 20.7% increase in the intervention group and a mean 24.9% increase in the control group ( p < 0.0001). However, there were no statistically significant differences in outcomes between groups for the 2 co-primary variables.

CONCLUSIONS: Contrary to findings from a previous study, systematic screening for adverse effects of AEDs using AEP scores did not lead to a reduced burden of toxicity over usual physician treatment.


CLINICALTRIALSGOV IDENTIFIER: NCT03939507 (registered retrospectively in 2019; the study was conducted during the 2006-2009 period and registration of clinical trials was not a widely established practice when this study was initiated).

CLASSIFICATION OF EVIDENCE: This study provides Class II evidence that the additional collection of formal questionnaires regarding adverse effects of AEDs does not reduce toxicity burden over usual physician treatment.

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