istock_000007336062mediumA new study offers fresh insights. It turns out that using newer anti-epilepsy drugs, providing specialist care and switching medications following epilepsy-related hospital admissions are associated with better outcomes for people living with epilepsy.

The findings are contained in a new US study1 which looked back at the health insurance records of 17,743 people with epilepsy to examine the risk factors for hospitalisation in this large group of patients.

The research reveals that patients taking an older anti-epilepsy drug which was introduced before 1994 had, on average, an epilepsy-related hospital encounter every 684 days (22.8 months). Those on newer medicines were hospitalised every 1,001 days (33.4 months).

This means that people taking newer epilepsy medications had a 31% lower risk of hospitalisation compared to those taking older drugs.

What happened after hospitalisation also mattered. The researchers found that patients whose doctor changed their epilepsy therapy following a hospital encounter recorded fewer subsequent epilepsy-related hospitalisations. The largest benefit was for patients switched from older drugs to newer ones.

Patients living closer to an epilepsy specialist were more likely to be on newer drugs and less likely to be hospitalised, according to the study.

The study, resulting from a research collaboration between the Epilepsy Foundation and UCB, was published in a peer-reviewed journal, “Epilepsy & Behavior”.

These data can help to improve care and outcomes for people living with epilepsy by reducing the number of seizures and reducing hospitalisation rates.

The Epilepsy Foundation, a US-based patient group, is using the findings to promote best practices and advocate for better outcomes for patients. They have published state-level scorecards showing which US states are providing the kind of care highlighted in the study and which states have opportunities to improve.

Thanks to this kind of research, policymakers have more details about what works and where change is needed most. Information is power; the power to improve patients’ lives.

1. Faught E, et al. Newer antiepileptic drug use and other factors decreasing hospital encounters. Epilepsy Behav (2015),