Frequency of and factors associated with antiseizure medication discontinuation discussions and decisions in patients with epilepsy: a multicenter retrospective chart review

Samuel W Terman, Geertruida Slinger, Adriana Koek, Jeremy Skvarce, Mellanie V Springer, Julie M Ziobro, James F Burke, Willem M Otte, Roland D Thijs, Kees Pj Braun

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Abstract

Objective: Guidelines suggest considering antiseizure medication (ASM) discontinuation in patients with epilepsy who become seizure-free. Little is known about how discontinuation decisions are being made in practice. We measured the frequency of, and factors associated with, discussions and decisions surrounding ASM discontinuation. Methods: We performed a multicenter retrospective cohort study at the University of Michigan (UM) and two Dutch centers: Wilhelmina Children's Hospital (WCH) and Stichting Epilepsie Instellingen Nederland (SEIN). We screened all children and adults with outpatient epilepsy visits in January 2015 and included those with at least one visit during the subsequent 2 years where they were seizure-free for at least one year. We recorded whether charts documented (1) a discussion with the patient about possible ASM discontinuation and (2) any planned attempt to discontinue at least one ASM. We conducted multilevel logistic regressions to determine factors associated with each outcome. Results: We included 1058 visits from 463 patients. Of all patients who were seizure-free at least one year, 248/463 (53%) had documentation of any discussion and 98/463 (21%) planned to discontinue at least one ASM. Corresponding frequencies for patients who were seizure-free at least 2 years were 184/285 (65%) and 74/285 (26%). The probability of discussing or discontinuing increased with longer duration of seizure freedom. Still, even for patients who were 10 years seizure-free, our models predicated that in only 49% of visits was a discontinuation discussion documented, and in only 16% of visits was it decided to discontinue all ASMs. Provider-to-provider variation explained 18% of variation in whether patients discontinued any ASM. Significance: Only approximately half of patients with prolonged seizure freedom had a documented discussion about ASM discontinuation. Discontinuation was fairly rare even among low-risk patients. Future work should further explore barriers to and facilitators of counseling and discontinuation attempts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-385
Number of pages15
JournalEpilepsia Open
Volume8
Issue number2
Early online date24 Jan 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023

Keywords

  • antiseizure medication
  • decision-making
  • drug withdrawal
  • epilepsy

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