WEDNESDAY, Feb. 8, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Phobic/agoraphobic symptoms are independently associated with poor quality of life in people with epilepsy, according to a study published online Jan. 16 in Epilepsy Research.

Heidi M. Munger Clary, M.D., M.P.H., from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and colleagues surveyed 420 adults with epilepsy seen at a large, single tertiary epilepsy center to assess phobic symptoms.

The researchers found that lower education (adjusted odds ratio, 3.38), non-White race/ethnicity (adjusted odds ratio, 2.34), and generalized anxiety symptoms (adjusted odds ratio, 1.91) were independently associated with high phobic/agoraphobic symptoms. There was an independent association seen between phobic/agoraphobic symptoms and poor quality of life, as well as depression symptoms, older age, and non-White race/ethnicity. There was no significant association observed between generalized anxiety and quality of life.

“We know that agoraphobia can lead to delays in patient care because of a reluctance to go out in public, which includes appointments with health care providers,” Munger Clary said in a statement. “Symptoms of agoraphobia do not fully overlap with generalized anxiety or depression symptoms that are often screened in routine practice. Providers might want to consider more robust symptom screening methods to identify and better assist these patients. This may be important to improve health equity, given other key study findings that show those with lower education and non-White race/ethnicity had increased odds of significant phobic/agoraphobic symptoms.”

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