Introduction: The consequences of having epilepsy seriously hamper the development of autonomy for youth with epilepsy (YWE) and limit their social participation. This study was designed to provide insight into the impact of epilepsy on autonomy and empowerment and to evaluate the use of the Skills for Growing Up (SGU-Epilepsy) communication tool in pediatric epileptic care.
Methods: A mixed methods designwas used to examine the impact of epilepsy on autonomy and empowerment and to evaluate the feasibility and use of the SGU-Epilepsy. Six focus groups with YWE and their parents were organized (N=27), and the benefits of the SGU-Epilepsy were evaluated (N=72).
Results: Youth with epilepsy struggled with social participation. Beliefs of YWE and their parents on managing daily life and taking medication were not always similar. Parents worried about the passive attitude of YWE, but autonomy ofYWE seemed to be constrained by parents. The SGU-Epilepsy seemed to be feasible. It facilitated the communication on development and empowerment although it was sometimes confronting for parents. Not all YWE were motivated to use and discuss the tool. In the evaluation, no differences in perceived autonomy and empowerment between YWE who used SGU-Epilepsy and received usual care appeared.
Conclusion: On the short-term, a beneficial effect of using the SGU-Epilepsy on autonomy and empowerment for YWE and their parents was not shown. The SGU-Epilepsy seemed to be a feasible instrument, however, to address nonmedical issues during pediatric consultations.