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Chronic illnesses are associated with multiple stressors that compromise quality of life (QOL). Implicit in many of these stressors is the concept of illness intrusiveness: the disruption of lifestyles, activities, and interests due to the constraints imposed by chronic disease and its treatment. The purpose of this study was to examine illness intrusiveness and QOL in epilepsy in patients with different levels of seizure control.
Cross-sectional data were obtained and compared between two groups of patients categorized by presence of seizures: seizure freedom or continued seizures (N=145). Standard instruments measured the following variables: illness intrusiveness, perceived personal control, subjective well-being, and disease specific QOL.
Illness intrusiveness varied inversely and significantly with seizure control. Complete seizure freedom, whether achieved by pharmacological or surgical treatment, was associated with the lowest levels of illness intrusiveness. Seizure freedom was also associated with increased perceived control, positive affect, self-esteem and QOL in epilepsy.
The most robust benefits of decreased illness intrusiveness in epilepsy occur when treatment leads to complete seizure control. Therefore every effort should be made by health care providers to achieve seizure freedom to reduce illness intrusiveness and improve QOL in epilepsy.
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