Pediatric Epilepsy and Behavioral Health: The State of the Literature and Directions for Evidence-Based Interprofessional Care, Training, and Research

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Abstract

Pediatric epilepsy is the most common neurologic condition and is linked to high rates of behavioral health comorbidities, which can compromise seizure control and quality of life. Despite these concerns, the behavioral health needs of youth with epilepsy are underserved. Given the climate of the Affordable Care Act, pediatric psychologists offer a unique skill set to address these comorbidities by developing and disseminating evidence-based behavioral health treatments that are efficient, increasingly cost-effective, and provided within an interprofessional framework. However, the training of pediatric psychologists within epilepsy care is limited outside of well-established neuropsychological assessment, which has stagnated the development of evidence-based behavioral health treatments for this population. The current aims of this project are multifaceted. The initial 2 aims include providing a brief overview of epilepsy and the associated behavioral health needs due to the high prevalence of psychological comorbidities, stigma, adjustment, and antiepileptic drug side effects, along with reviewing evidence-based treatments for externalizing and internalizing symptoms within pediatric epilepsy. The final aims are to offer directions for interprofessional care that contains health-care costs and improves outcomes, to highlight pediatric epilepsy as an optimal pediatric psychology training opportunity, and to provide next steps for the increased need for clinical intervention research. This effort increases awareness of epilepsy as a growing area of opportunity within pediatric psychology and strengthens the role of pediatric psychologists as an integral part of the comprehensive treatment of youth with epilepsy.

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