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Psychological and demographic characteristics of 368 patients with dissociative seizures: data from the CODES cohort

Goldstein, Laura H., Robinson, Emily J., Mellers, John D. C., Stone, Jon, Carson, Alan, Chalder, Trudie, Reuber, Markus, Eastwood, Carole, Landau, Sabine, McCrone, Paul, Moore, Michele, Mosweu, Iris, Murray, Joanna, Perdue, Iain, Pilecka, Izabela, Richardson, Mark P., Medford, Nick, CODES Study Group and Smith, Phillip ORCID: 2021. Psychological and demographic characteristics of 368 patients with dissociative seizures: data from the CODES cohort. Psychological Medicine 51 (14) , pp. 2433-2445. 10.1017/S0033291720001051

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Background We examined demographic, clinical, and psychological characteristics of a large cohort (n = 368) of adults with dissociative seizures (DS) recruited to the CODES randomised controlled trial (RCT) and explored differences associated with age at onset of DS, gender, and DS semiology. Methods Prior to randomisation within the CODES RCT, we collected demographic and clinical data on 368 participants. We assessed psychiatric comorbidity using the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview (M.I.N.I.) and a screening measure of personality disorder and measured anxiety, depression, psychological distress, somatic symptom burden, emotional expression, functional impact of DS, avoidance behaviour, and quality of life. We undertook comparisons based on reported age at DS onset (<40 v. ⩾40), gender (male v. female), and DS semiology (predominantly hyperkinetic v. hypokinetic). Results Our cohort was predominantly female (72%) and characterised by high levels of socio-economic deprivation. Two-thirds had predominantly hyperkinetic DS. Of the total, 69% had ⩾1 comorbid M.I.N.I. diagnosis (median number = 2), with agoraphobia being the most common concurrent diagnosis. Clinical levels of distress were reported by 86% and characteristics associated with maladaptive personality traits by 60%. Moderate-to-severe functional impairment, high levels of somatic symptoms, and impaired quality of life were also reported. Women had a younger age at DS onset than men. Conclusions Our study highlights the burden of psychopathology and socio-economic deprivation in a large, heterogeneous cohort of patients with DS. The lack of clear differences based on gender, DS semiology and age at onset suggests these factors do not add substantially to the heterogeneity of the cohort.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Additional Information: Philip Smith is a member of the CODES study group. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISSN: 0033-2917
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 2 March 2021
Last Modified: 05 May 2023 04:42

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