Non-adherence to antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) is a common (i.e., 58% of patients have some level of non- adherence) and previously under-recognized problem for young children with newly diagnosed epilepsy. This is surprising given the consequences of non-adherence in patients with epilepsy are extremely serious, including continued seizures, mortality, and high healthcare expenditures. Despite the critical need to develop and implement interventions to improve adherence, there are no family-based interventions for young children with epilepsy and their families. As such, we developed a family-tailored adherence intervention (STAR: Supporting Treatment Adherence Regimens) focused on increasing epilepsy knowledge and problem-solving skills around barriers to adherence for children with epilepsy and their families. Data from our pilot adherence intervention studies demonstrated good preliminary effects (effect size= 0.64) and excellent feasibility, with families reporting that the intervention was beneficial and a positive experience for their family. Capitalizing on these findings, the next logical step is to test the efficacy of he STAR intervention to improve AED adherence in 200 children with epilepsy via a randomized controlled trial. Thus, the aims of the study are to examine the short-term and long-term effects of the STAR intervention on electronically-monitored medication adherence in children with new-onset epilepsy compared to an education only (EO) intervention. In addition, exploratory aims are to examine the effect of the STAR intervention on seizure freedom and QOL in children with epilepsy compared to the EO intervention. The current study uses an innovative, sequential, randomization enrichment design that preventatively targets 200 patients with new-onset epilepsy, between 2-12 years, who demonstrate non-adherence. Using criteria established from our pilot studies, adherence falling below 95% within the first six months of the study will trigger participant randomization into one of two 8-session interventions: STAR or EO. If the aims of the project are achieved, this study will change the practice of pediatric epilepsy by providing a proven approach to the routine monitoring and treatment of AED non-adherence in epilepsy clinics across the nation. This study also lays the foundation for determining the long term impact of adherence intervention on morbidity and mortality. In addition, this study's innovative methodological enrichment design should be generalizable to other pediatric conditions and lead to the development of cost effective, clinic-based adherence promotion interventions.

Public Health Relevance

Fifty-eight percent of children with new-onset epilepsy do not take their antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) as prescribed (i.e., non-adherence). Non-adherence, which is modifiable, is associated with continued seizures, mortality, poor quality of life, and high healthcare costs. There are no adherence interventions for young children with epilepsy and their families;thus, the current proposal examines a family-based behavioral treatment focused on improving epilepsy knowledge and problem-solving around barriers to adherence in young children with epilepsy and their families with the goal of improving adherence and ultimately, seizures and quality of life.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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Behavioral Medicine, Interventions and Outcomes Study Section (BMIO)
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Haverkos, Lynne
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Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
United States
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