Health-related Quality of Life of People with Epilepsy Compared with a General Reference Population: A Tunisian Study

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The goal of the study was to assess the health-related quality of life (HRQOL) of persons with epilepsy (PWE) by using the short form survey 36 (SF-36), to compare it with that of a control group and to detect factors influencing it.


We collected clinical and demographic data and information on health status by using the Arabic translation of the SF-36 questionnaire from two groups: (a) 120 PWE consulting our outpatient clinic during a period of 4 months, and (b) 110 Tunisian citizens, representative of the Tunisian general population, as a control group.


The mean age of PWE group was 32.74 years, and 45.5% were men. Idiopathic generalized epilepsies were observed in 44.5% of cases, and symptomatic partial epilepsies, in 30%. The most commonly prescribed drug was sodium valproate (VPA). For the SF-36, PWE had lower scores than the control group for only three subscales: general health perception, mental health, and social functioning. Seizure frequency, time since last seizure, and the antiepileptic drug (AED) side effects were the most important variables influencing the HRQOL among PWE. Seizure-free adults have HRQOL levels comparable to those of the control group. Sociodemographic variables had no influence on the SF-36 subscales.


HRQOL is impaired in Tunisian PWE. The influencing factors identified in this study differ from the previously published data. Several possible reasons such as family support and cultural and religious beliefs are proposed to explain these cross-cultural differences. A larger study should be conducted to verify such findings.

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