Adherence to antiepileptic medicines in children: a multiple-methods assessment involving dried blood spot sampling

Noraida M. Shah, Ahmed F. Hawwa, Jeff S. Millership, Paul S. Collier, Paul Ho, Mui Ling Tan, Deirdre Peake, Sandya Tirupathi, Janice Bothwell, Nicola Bailie, Charles Shepherd, John Craig, James C. McElnay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose - To evaluate adherence to prescribed antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) in children with epilepsy using a combination of adherence-assessment methods.
Methods - A total of 100 children with epilepsy (≤17 years old) were recruited. Medication adherence was determined via parental and child self-reporting (≥9 years old), medication refill data from general practitioner (GP) prescribing records, and via AED concentrations in dried blood spot (DBS) samples obtained from children at the clinic and via self- or parental-led sampling in children's own homes. The latter were assessed using population pharmacokinetic modeling. Patients were deemed nonadherent if any of these measures were indicative of nonadherence with the prescribed treatment. In addition, beliefs about medicines, parental confidence in seizure management, and the presence of depressed mood in parents were evaluated to examine their association with nonadherence in the participating children.
Key Findings - The overall rate of nonadherence in children with epilepsy was 33%. Logistic regression analysis indicated that children with generalized epilepsy (vs. focal epilepsy) were more likely (odds ratio [OR] 4.7, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.37–15.81) to be classified as nonadherent as were children whose parents have depressed mood (OR 3.6, 95% CI 1.16–11.41).
Significance - This is the first study to apply the novel methodology of determining adherence via AED concentrations in clinic and home DBS samples. The present findings show that the latter, with further development, could be a useful approach to adherence assessment when combined with other measures including parent and child self-reporting. Seizure type and parental depressed mood were strongly predictive of nonadherence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1020-1027
Number of pages8
Issue number6
Early online date28 Feb 2013
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013

Bibliographical note

Wiley Periodicals, Inc. © 2013 International League Against Epilepsy.


  • adherence
  • epilepsy
  • dried blood spots
  • MARS
  • depressed mood


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