Medical and surgical treatment of epilepsy in older adults: A national survey

Nafisa Husein, Timothé Langlois-Thérien, Bastien Rioux, Colin B. Josephson, Nathalie Jetté, Mark R. Keezer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: There are no clinical guidelines dedicated to the treatment of epilepsy in older adults. We investigated physician opinion and practice regarding the treatment of people with epilepsy aged 65 years or older. We also sought to study how our opinion and practice varied between geriatricians, general neurologists, and epilepsy neurologists (i.e., epileptologists). Methods: We initially piloted our survey to measure test–retest reliability. Once finalized, we disseminated the survey via two rounds of facsimiles, and then conventional mail, to eligible individuals listed in a national directory of Canadian physicians. We used descriptive statistics such as stacked bar charts and tables to illustrate our findings. Results: One hundred forty-four physicians (104 general neurologists, 25 geriatricians, and 15 epileptologists) answered our survey in its entirety (overall response rate of 13.2%). Levetiracetam and lamotrigine were the preferred antiseizure medications (ASMs) to treat older adults with epilepsy. Two thirds of epileptologists and almost half of general neurologists would consider prescribing lacosamide in >50% of people aged >65 years; only one geriatrician was of the same opinion. More than 40% of general neurologists and geriatricians erroneously believed that none of the ASMs mentioned in our survey was previously studied in randomized controlled trials specific to the treatment of epilepsy in older adults. Epileptologists were more likely as compared to general neurologists and geriatricians to recommend epilepsy surgery (e.g., 66.6% vs. 22.9%–37.5% among older adults). Significance: Therapeutic decisions for older adults with epilepsy are heterogeneous between physician groups and sometimes misalign with available clinical evidence. Our surveyed physicians differed in their approach to ASM choice as well as perception of surgery in older adults with epilepsy. These findings likely reflect the lack of clinical guidelines dedicated to this population and the deficient implementation of best practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)900-909
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • antiepileptic medication
  • antiseizure medication
  • elderly
  • epilepsy surgery


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