The Public Health Dimensions of the Epilepsies

Type: Consensus Study
Topics: Diseases, Public Health
Board: Board on Health Sciences Policy

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Activity Description

Epilepsy is one of the most common neurologic conditions in the United States, affecting at least 1 in 100 adults and 1 in 20 children. There are more than 40 types of epilepsy—referred to collectively as the epilepsies—that cause recurrent seizures and that can be responsible for brain damage; neurological, cognitive, or psychiatric impairment; and death. Advances in research are improving our understanding of the scope of epilepsy and its public health impact. However, current approaches do not fully take into account either the broad range of epilepsy disorders and their comorbidities or their consequences for health and quality of life.

The IOM is undertaking a new study that will consider the public health dimensions of the epilepsies in the United States—including health care and human services, health literacy, and education. The IOM will recommend priorities in these areas in order to better understand the public health impact of the epilepsies and to meet the needs of people with epilepsy and their caregivers. Specifically, the IOM will focus on the following questions:

  • How can the public health burden of epilepsy for patients and families be more accurately assessed?
  • What priorities for future population health studies could inform treatment and prevention?
  • How can the access to health and human services and the quality of care for people with epilepsy be improved?
  • How can the education and training of professionals who work with people with epilepsy be improved?
  • How can the understanding of epilepsy in patients and the general public be improved to create supportive communities?

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