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Relevance of epilepsy training in intellectual disability nursing

Controlled trial analyses nurses' competency to support adults with epilepsy and intellectual disability

People with an intellectual disability (ID) have an increased risk of epilepsy. The epilepsy experienced by those with an ID is more severe and more difficult to treat than in those without an ID.

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This cluster randomised control trial investigated whether ID nurses with specific training in the management of epilepsy in people with an ID improved the clinical and quality of life outcomes for people with ID.

Seventeen community based ID teams participated: eight randomised to receive the training and nine to provide usual care. Half of the 312 adults with ID and epilepsy recruited received care from teams with nurses who had had training and half from the other ID teams and nurses. Follow up at six months found no significant difference in seizure severity, quality of life, carer strain, seizure frequency or side effects between the two groups.

The costs for the intervention arm were found to be lower. Interviews with family carers found that they most appreciated a nurse, irrespective of training or not, who was approachable and who could be contacted quickly when there was a problem.  The additional epilepsy training for nurses conferred no clinical benefit compared with usual treatment.

Ring H, Howlett J, Pennington M et al (2018) Training nurses in a competency framework to support adults with epilepsy and intellectual disability: the EpAID cluster RCT. Health Technology Assessment. 22, 10, 1-104. doi: 10.3310/hta22100.

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