Personality functioning in adults with refractory epilepsy and community adults: Implications for health-related quality of life

Jessica Rassart*, Koen Luyckx, Ludo Verdyck, Teus Mijnster, Ruth Mark

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Prior research has shown that people with epilepsy are at risk for a poorer health-related quality of life (HRQOL). However, patients differ greatly in how well they adjust to their epilepsy. To better understand these differences, the present study examined the role of personality. More specifically, we examined mean-level differences in Big Five personality traits between adults with refractory epilepsy and a community sample and related these traits to patients’ HRQOL.
A total of 121 adults with refractory epilepsy (18-40 years old, 56% women) completed questionnaires on the Big Five personality traits, HRQOL, and seizure frequency and severity. Patients’ Big Five scores were compared to those of a community sample matched on sex and age using paired samples t-tests. We conducted hierarchical regression analyses to examine associations between personality and HRQOL, while controlling for the effects of sex, age, age at diagnosis, seizure frequency, and seizure severity.
Patients reported higher levels of neuroticism and lower levels of openness as compared to controls. In patients, seizure severity was positively related to neuroticism and negatively related to agreeableness. Finally, patients high in neuroticism and low in conscientiousness generally reported a poorer HRQOL.
In the present study, small personality differences were observed between adults with refractory epilepsy and a community sample. Patients’ personality was found to play an important role in adjusting to epilepsy, even after controlling for seizure frequency and severity. Personality assessment may help healthcare professionals in identifying patients at risk for poor HRQOL later in life.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106251
Number of pages7
JournalEpilepsy Research
Publication statusPublished - 2020



  • Refractory epilepsypersonalitythe Big Fivehealth-related quality of life

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