Systematic review of unmet healthcare needs in patients with epilepsy

Mayuri Mahendran, Kathy N. Speechley, Elysa Widjaja*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Objective Patients with epilepsy (PWE) are more likely to have unmet healthcare needs than the general population. This systematic review assessed the reasons for unmet needs in PWE. Methods Medline, Embase, PsycINFO, Cochrane, and Web of Science databases were searched using keywords relating to unmet healthcare needs, treatment barriers, and access to care. The search included all countries, adult and pediatric populations, survey and qualitative studies, but excluded non-English articles and articles published before 2001. Reasons for unmet needs were extracted. Results Nineteen survey and 22 qualitative studies were included. Three survey and five qualitative studies excluded patients with comorbidities. There were twice as many studies on unmet mental healthcare needs than unmet physical care needs in PWE. Poor availability of health services, accessibility issues, and lack of health information contributed to unmet needs in both Western and developing countries. Lack of health services, long wait lists, uncoordinated care, and difficulty getting needed health information were prevalent in the United States (US) as well as countries with a universal healthcare system. However, unmet needs due to costs of care were reported more commonly in studies from the US. Significance This systematic review identified reasons for unmet needs in PWE across different countries, which will inform specific interventions required to address these unmet needs. Unmet needs may have been underestimated due to exclusion of PWE with comorbidities in some studies. Additional studies are needed to understand the contribution of comorbidities on unmet needs and their interaction with caregiver and family factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102-109
Number of pages8
JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
StatePublished - Oct 2017


  • Access to care
  • Barriers to care
  • Epilepsy
  • Transitioning care
  • Unmet healthcare needs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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