Grant round winners 2008

Many people with intractable epilepsy report that psychological factors in everyday life, for example stress levels, can affect how often they have seizures. Some people find that practising particular ways of thinking can allow them to control their seizures.

Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is one way of helping this happen. CBT is a “talking treatment”: with a therapist, the person explores how they feel about themselves and the world, and how their actions affect their thoughts and feelings.

Dr Laura Goldstein and her colleagues at the Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, and at the Maudsley Hospital and King’s College Hospital in London, have been developing this treatment specifically for people with epilepsy. They have adapted CBT techniques to focus on how people think about their seizures and the factors which affect how likely they are to have seizures.

Dr Goldstein and her colleagues have now been awarded £79,823 to carry out an 18-month study comparing the effectiveness of the adapted version of CBT for epilepsy (in addition to anti-epileptic drug therapy) with the effectiveness of drug treatment alone. They will measure the effect of treatment on the frequency and severity of seizures experienced by participants, and also on their mood and quality of life.

The study, called Cognitive behaviour therapy for epilepsy: improving seizure control and quality of life, will also establish how acceptable the talking treatment is to participants, and examine what sorts of epilepsy are best suited to treatment like this. The study will prepare the ground for a full-scale trial of CBT for epilepsy in the future. This is required before the treatment can become available on the NHS.

This is one of nine grants made by Epilepsy Research UK in 2008. Read about the other grants from 2008 here