Paediatricians' attitudes to and management of functional seizures in children

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OBJECTIVE: To explore paediatricians' attitudes to and treatment practice for children with functional seizures (FS).

METHODS: In a nationwide survey, all 64 Danish neuro-paediatricians and social paediatricians were invited to complete a structured questionnaire encompassing FS-related issues that included beliefs and attitudes about aetiology and diagnostic assessment, current strategies for management, experienced need for clinical guidelines and better treatment options.

RESULTS: A total of 61 paediatricians (95%) participated in the study. Nearly half (46%) had seen more than 30 children with FS during their career. Most (65%) believed in a primarily psychogenic aetiology. More than half (57%) stated that they could make the diagnosis by solely observing a seizure, and 18% indicated the children faked their symptoms. The paediatricians' responses to these issues did not significantly vary according to their level of clinical experience. Furthermore, the majority (78%) expressed a need for clinical guidelines, and only 13% rated existing treatment options as sufficient. Collaborative care between different specialties or management in a child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) setting was seen as the best model for treatment. However, only 23% reported often referring these children to CAMHS after making the diagnosis.

CONCLUSION: The findings suggest that introduction of clinical guidelines in this area is highly needed. Such guidelines could promote more formal training of paediatricians in understanding and assessing FS and increased collaboration between paediatrics and CAMHS regarding care for children with this challenging and potentially costly and disabling disorder.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean journal of paediatric neurology : EJPN : official journal of the European Paediatric Neurology Society
Pages (from-to)774-781
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018

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