Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Science


Epidemiology and Biostatistics


Speechley, Kathy


Children with epilepsy are impacted far beyond having seizures, as children with epilepsy often have more psychiatric and behavioural problems than the general population. Whether these problems remain at elevated rates in the long-term is unclear. This study revealed that the prevalence of long-term behavioural problems in youth with childhood-onset epilepsy did not differ significantly from the assessment normative data. Multivariable regression was used to assess associations of baseline and current characteristics with long-term behavioural problems. No associations with baseline characteristics were found, but current attitude towards epilepsy was associated with total, internalizing, and externalizing behavioural problems while seizure control was associated with internalizing behavioural problems. These findings show that long-term behavioural problems in youth with childhood-onset epilepsy are not significantly elevated, and though there are not any associations with baseline characteristics, there are some associations with current characteristics that could make identifying and reducing behavioural problems easier.

Summary for Lay Audience

The impact of childhood-onset epilepsy goes far beyond a child having seizures, impacting children's quality of life, as well as that of their parents. Up to 80% of children with epilepsy (CWE) may face cognitive, psychiatric, and/or behavioral comorbidities. It has been suggested that risk factors of behavioral problems in CWE are a combination of neurological, seizure, family, and child variables. The main objectives of this thesis were to determine the prevalence of behavioural problems in youth 10 years after a diagnosis of childhood-onset epilepsy and to explore which factors might be related to behavioural problems. A list of 112 behavioural and emotional problems, where respondents rate whether their own behaviour matches those in the list, was used to assess behavioral problems in a health-related quality of life in children with epilepsy study. Long-term behavioural problems in youth with childhood-onset epilepsy were not significantly different than those found in the general population. No factors from the time of diagnosis were found to be associated with behavioural problems, however significant associations were found with the youth’s attitude towards epilepsy which was measured at the same time as the behavioural problems; approximately 10 years after the onset of epilepsy. In addition, the amount of time since the youth last had a seizure was associated with certain behavioural problems, where those who had not had a seizure for at least two years were less likely to have behavioural problems. Although no factors from when the children were diagnosed with epilepsy were associated with behavioural problems later in adolescence, measuring attitudes towards epilepsy could help determine which youth might benefit from interventions to lessen behavioural problems.