The psychosocial impact of epilepsy on marriage: A narrative review.
Kinariwalla N., Sen A.
There have been many studies exploring quality of life as well as the impact of epilepsy on the affected individual. However, epilepsy affects more than the patients themselves, and there seems to be a paucity of data regarding the impact of epilepsy beyond the person with epilepsy (PWE). In particular, it is uncertain what the impact of epilepsy on marriage may be. We therefore performed a narrative review to evaluate work measuring the psychosocial effect of epilepsy on marriage. We reviewed the literature on epilepsy and marriage by searching PubMed (Medline) and EMBASE and thoroughly examining relevant bibliographies. Forty-two papers were identified that addressed the issue of the psychosocial effect of epilepsy on marriage. The different approaches used to assess the impact of epilepsy on marriage can be broadly grouped into three categories: assessment of the social effect of living with epilepsy, which includes the marital prospects of PWEs and how changes in martial status associate with seizure frequency; assessment of quality of life (QOL) of PWEs; assessment of the association of social support with the disease burden of epilepsy. Within each of these approaches, different research methods have been employed including questionnaires, qualitative methods, and scales. The studies reviewed indicate that epilepsy has a severe impact on individuals and their families. While many quality-of-life surveys do comment on the marital status of the patient, there is little expansion beyond this. The impact that seizures may have on the partner of a patient with epilepsy is barely addressed. With increasing incidence of epilepsy in older populations, potential changes in the dynamic of a long-term marriage with the development of epilepsy in older age are not known. Similarly, the impact of marriage on concordance with medication or proceeding to, for example, surgical treatment for pharmacoresistant epilepsy has not been studied in detail. We suggest ways in which to address these aspects in order to better deliver holistic care to patients with epilepsy and their partners.