Health care utilization following diagnosis of psychogenic nonepileptic seizures

Martin Salinsky, Daniel Storzbach, Elizabeth Goy, Marissa Kellogg, Eilis Boudreau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Objectives: The long-term outcome of patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) is of importance given the disabling symptoms and tendency to affect patients early in their productive years. Health care utilization (HCU) is an important outcome measure reflecting overall health status and costs. There is little information regarding long-term HCU following diagnosis of PNES. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed records of Veterans diagnosed with PNES during epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU) evaluation. For the three-year period following diagnosis of PNES, we reviewed emergency department (ED) visits, hospitalizations, outpatient clinic visits, and radiology procedures. We compared the three years following PNES diagnosis with the three years preceding diagnosis. We also compared patients with PNES and patients with epileptic seizures (ES). Results: Emergency department visits and hospitalizations were more frequent in patients with PNES compared with those in patients with ES (p = 0.01). There was no overall improvement in HCU during the three-year interval following diagnosis of PNES. A transient decrease during the year following diagnosis was not sustained over three-year follow-up. Pain complaints rather than seizures were the most common reason for presentation, whereas the opposite was true for patients with ES (p < 0.01). There was a sharp decrease in neurology outpatient visits (p < 0.001) and a decrease in primary care visits (p < 0.05) after PNES was diagnosed. Total outpatient visits were unchanged. Conclusions: Overall HCU did not improve during the three years following diagnosis of PNES, compared with three years preceding diagnosis. The results add to studies documenting poor seizure outcomes following diagnosis of PNES and underscore the need for more effective and comprehensive treatments, addressing comorbid symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-111
Number of pages5
JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016


  • Epilepsy
  • Health care utilization
  • Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures
  • Veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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