Epilepsy-related deaths: an Australian survey of the experiences and needs of people bereaved by epilepsy

Michelle Bellon, Rosemary Panelli, Fiona Rillotta

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    21 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose This study explores the experiences and needs of bereaved family and friends following an epilepsy-related death in Australia. Method An online survey was used to collect demographic details of the person with epilepsy, epilepsy status, time since the death, satisfaction with service providers at the time of death, follow-up support, perceptions on how well the death was explained, and gaps in support or services. Results The survey was completed by 101 respondents describing 90 deceased individuals. Mean age at death was 32.1 years, with causes of death including SUDEP, epilepsy, drowning, cardiac arrest, asphyxiation, and motor vehicle accidents. Over half of the respondents indicated that they did not know, prior to the death, people could die of epilepsy. In addition, 38% indicated the death had not been adequately explained to them. Comments revealed services and supports which should be available following a death, and recommendations for existing epilepsy support services which might help to prevent future deaths. Conclusion Findings highlight the need to improve community understanding and support for those affected by epilepsy and to promote informed risk assessment and communication amongst patients, families and health professionals. People bereaved by epilepsy require both immediate and long-term epilepsy-specific information and support from professionals, informal communities and peer supporters.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)162-168
    Number of pages7
    Issue numberJuly 2015
    Early online date2015
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2015


    • Bereavement
    • Death
    • Epilepsy
    • Patient education
    • Risk communication


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