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Changes in quality of life as a result of ketogenic diet therapy: A new approach to assessment with the potential for positive therapeutic effects

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Susie Bruce, Dr Anita Devlin


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© 2016 There are difficulties inherent in measuring Quality of life (QoL) in patients with chronic illness, including agreement on definitions of quality of life and the type of measure used, disease specific or generic. Well validated QoL instruments for epilepsy exist but focus on capturing common themes pertinent to children and families as a group instead of focusing on themes important to individual patients and their families/carers. In addition, it is common for numerous items on these inventories to be left incomplete or responded to with “not applicable” since many of the items are not suitable for children with disabilities and their families. This led us to devise a way to capture individual quality-of-life measures that are linked to parental/carer expectations in families of children undergoing ketogenic diet therapy for epilepsy. As part of our routine clinical assessment, parents/carers were asked to describe what they would like to see happen or change as a result of their child being on ketogenic diet therapy. A simple unstructured form was designed to facilitate the assessment process. Parents were then asked to rate their own QoL against these criteria on a Likert scale of 0–10 prior to commencement of the diet. This assessment was repeated at subsequent visits with parents/carers initially blinded to their original responses. Our assessments indicated that ketogenic diet therapy improves quality of life over a twelve-month period when measured against parental expectations. This ideographic approach has demonstrated changes in parental Qol and parental perceptions of their child's quality of life that would not have been captured by other validated measures. A lengthy questionnaire is avoided and is replaced by a skilled supportive conversation that identifies goals for treatment that are important to parents. This helps parents to reflect on the progress their child makes on the diet by revisiting their previously stated aspirations, and assessing whether they have been achieved. This is particularly helpful for those parents who express a sense of failure or helplessness relating to their child's intractable epilepsy. As a result, future work will center on developing this approach as a clinical tool.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bruce S, Devlin A, Air L, Cook L

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Epilepsy and Behavior

Year: 2017

Volume: 66

Pages: 100-104

Print publication date: 01/01/2017

Online publication date: 27/12/2016

Acceptance date: 04/10/2016

ISSN (print): 1525-5050

ISSN (electronic): 1525-5069

Publisher: Academic Press Inc.


DOI: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2016.10.001


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