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Brain. 1992 Jun;115 ( Pt 3):783-94.

Validation of a screening questionnaire for the detection of epileptic seizures in epidemiological studies.

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  • 1Community Management of Epilepsy Project, Quito, Ecuador.


A large-scale clinico-epidemiological study of epileptic seizures has been carried out in a highland area in northern Ecuador, South America. This paper describes the design and the two-staged validation procedures undertaken to authenticate the screening questionnaire, which was used to detect epileptic seizures in the community during this project. An initial questionnaire consisting of 20 questions was devised and then validated in a group of healthy subjects and a group of patients with known epileptic seizures. This questionnaire was found to have a sensitivity of 100% and a specificity of 50.8%. A cluster analysis of the responses rates was undertaken and a set of nine questions which presented a specificity of 92% and sensitivity of 98% were chosen to be used during the survey. The validation of this nine-question instrument was then undertaken by direct application to a general population of 72,121 persons. Positive, negative, false positive and false negative rates were derived. The screening instrument was found to have a sensitivity of 79.3%, a specificity of 92.9%, a positive predictive value of 18.3%, a negative predictive value of 99.6% and a Youden's index of 0.79. The methodology of the study and the instruments developed are recommended for future neuro-epidemiological work in epilepsy. The problems of validation are discussed, and previous epidemiological studies of epilepsy reviewed with special emphasis on the handling of questions of validation.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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