Serious psychological distress among adults with active epilepsy in all racial/ethnic groups and among adults with inactive epilepsy in non-Hispanic whites is significantly higher than among adults without epilepsy-U.S. National Health Interview Survey, 2010, 2013, 2015, and 2017.
Epilepsy Program, Division of Population Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC, Mail Stop F-78, 4770 Buford Hwy, 30341, GA, United States. Electronic address: [Email]
Serious psychological distress (SPD) includes mental health problems severe enough to cause moderate-to-serious impairment in daily activities and to require treatment. Serious psychological distress is based on answers to six survey questions from the Kessler-6 scale used internationally in public health surveillance systems to assess recent feelings of sadness, restlessness, hopelessness, nervousness, worthlessness, and the sense that everything is an effort. We combined nationally representative samples in the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) from 2010 (N = 27,157), 2013 (N = 34,557), 2015 (N = 33,672), and 2017 (N = 26,742). We used a validated surveillance case definition to classify adults as having epilepsy if they reported a history of doctor-diagnosed epilepsy or seizure disorder (n = 2251). We further classified those with epilepsy as having active epilepsy (n = 1380) if they reported either taking epilepsy medications or having at least one seizure in the past 12 months or as having inactive epilepsy (n = 871) if they did not take epilepsy medication and had not had any seizures in the past 12 months. We used an NHIS recoded variable that classifies adults by Hispanic origin and race. Following age adjustment, among adults with active epilepsy, SPD prevalence was 13.7% among non-Hispanic white adults, 11.2% among non-Hispanic black adults, 20.7% among Hispanic adults, and 17.5% among non-Hispanic other adults. Compared with adults without epilepsy, adults with active epilepsy were 4.8 times more likely, and adults with inactive epilepsy 2.6 times more likely, to report SPD. In each racial/ethnic group, SPD among adults with active epilepsy is significantly higher than in adults without epilepsy. Among adults with active epilepsy, SPD prevalence did not differ by racial/ethnic groups. However, only among non-Hispanic white adults with inactive epilepsy did SPD prevalence significantly exceed that among non-Hispanic white adults without epilepsy. Epilepsy stakeholders can use these estimates to target culturally appropriate community-based and clinic-based interventions to reduce the high burden of psychological distress among adults with active epilepsy and inactive epilepsy.