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Mental Health Intervention for Children with Epilepsy (MICE)

Project Overview

Epilepsy, the most common serious long-term illness in young people, is a brain disorder with seizures. Many young people with epilepsy also have one or more mental health problems (e.g. depression, anxiety and behaviour difficulties) impacting them and their families.

The MICE project is a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funded research study (Ref: RP-PG-0616-20007), running between October 2017 and October 2023, to test the efficacy of an evidence-based flexible and modular psychological treatment for young people with epilepsy and associated mental health problems, to be delivered within epilepsy services.

Chief investigators on the project are Professor Roz Shafran and Professor J Helen Cross from UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health. Professor Jonathan A. Smith from Birkbeck, University of London is co-investigator for the qualitative arm of the study, where he is working with Qualitative Researcher Isabella E. Nizza.

Research Aims

The long-term goal of the study is to transform the treatment of mental health disorders of young people with epilepsy.

The study uses a psychological treatment called Modular Approach to Therapy for Children (MATCH) adapted for epilepsy and designed for delivery by staff without special mental health training. The project's RCT includes assessing 1200 young people with epilepsy, randomising those with mental health problems to treatment-as-usual or to treatment with MATCH.

Twenty-four of the participants receiving the MATCH treatment are invited to take part in the qualitative arm of the study. The families and, where possible, the young people themselves are interviewed in-depth before the start of therapy and six months later, to understand how their epilepsy and psychological and emotional wellbeing evolve over time. Interviews will be analysed longitudinally, primarily using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), a method widely used to understand individual experience in health psychology and for which Birkbeck is a centre of excellence.

Outputs and Outcomes

The overall outcome will be to establish the value of including the adapted MATCH treatment in the care provided by epilepsy services, to improve the physical and mental wellbeing of young people with epilepsy and mental health difficulties.

The qualitative results will complement the quantitative measures in evaluating the intervention's effectiveness in terms of outcomes and processes. The qualitative results will also illustrate in detail any changes in experience that may occur after receiving treatment.