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Opinions, attitudes and practices of Australian neurologists with regard to epilepsy and driving

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Abstract Introduction:

Austroads Guidelines for fitness to drive were promulgated in 2003. Epilepsy was one of the conditions included and this paper reports results of a survey of Australian neurologists regarding opinions and practices relevant to the guidelines. Methods:

The survey was developed, piloted and Human Research Ethics Committee approved. Members of the Australian Association of Neurologists received three mailings and results were analysed. Results:

Almost 70% of 236 surveyed indicated assessment of epilepsy and driving with <9% not doing so – establishing ∼77% response for eligible neurologists. Most questions achieved 90% response. Almost 90% respondents assessed epilepsy and 70% found the guidelines helpful. Seventy-seven per cent endorsed doctor assessors although half discounted General Practitioners as insufficiently knowledgeable and half advocated that only neurologists evaluate potential drivers with epilepsy. Most respondents supported reporting recalcitrant patients; yet only <30% did so. Three-quarters favoured licences carrying a warning to self-report and two-thirds felt that product information should identify driving implications. Although many questions attracted expected responses, the surprise was the large undecided numbers, which were greater than expected. Neurologists were more lenient than prescribed by the guidelines with neither consensus for controlled epilepsy nor mandatory driving restrictions. Conclusion:

Respondents supplied predictable answers regarding ideal circumstances; yet most did not report recalcitrant patients. Most claimed to adhere to the guidelines and yet advocated more lenient driving restrictions that may allow preventable accidents. There was agreement between neurologists and guidelines for more rigourous restrictions for commercial drivers although again neurologists were more lenient. There is need for prospective research on epilepsy and driving.
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Keywords: driving; epilepsy; guideline; opinion; practice

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Strategic Health Evaluators

Publication date: 2007-04-01

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