Objective: To examine the factors and reasons influencing treatment initiation decisions in patients with newly diagnosed epilepsy. Methods: We assessed antiseizure medication initiation decisions in adults with newly diagnosed epilepsy seen at first seizure clinics in Western Australia between 1999 and 2016 and followed to 2018. Results: Of 610 patients (median age 40 years, 61.0% male), 426 (69.8%) were diagnosed after two or more seizures and 184 (30.2%) after a single seizure with risk factors for recurrence. Treatment was commenced in 427 patients (70.0%) at diagnosis, 112 (18.4%) during follow-up, mostly after further seizures, whereas 71 (11.6%) remained untreated at last follow-up. Elders (≥65 years, odds ratio [OR] = 3.06, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.62-5.80), more seizures (OR = 3.48, 95% CI: 2.03-5.96), and epileptogenic lesions on neuroimaging (OR = 2.15, 95% CI: 1.26-3.68) had a higher likelihood of treatment at diagnosis. Patients with less than one seizure per year within the preceding year (OR = 0.40, 95% CI: 0.21-0.73) and of higher socioeconomic status (OR = 0.985, 95% CI: 0.977-0.994) were less likely to be treated. For 93 patients (15.2%), treatment was not recommended at diagnosis, most commonly because only a single seizure had occurred. Ninety patients (14.8%) declined recommended treatment, mostly because they were unconvinced of the need for treatment or the diagnosis. Significance: Thirty percent of adults with newly diagnosed epilepsy were not immediately treated. Treatment initiation in this real-world cohort was influenced by age, number of seizures prior to diagnosis, imaging findings, patient preferences, and socioeconomic status.
- early seizures
- patient preference