Research into the (Cost-) effectiveness of the ketogenic diet among children and adolescents with intractable epilepsy: design of a randomized controlled trial
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Background: Epilepsy is a neurological disorder, characterized by recurrent unprovoked seizures which have a high impact on the individual as well as on society as a whole. In addition to the economic burden, epilepsy imposes a substantial burden on the patients and their surroundings. Patients with uncontrolled epilepsy depend heavily on informal care and on health care professionals. About 30% of patients suffer from drug-resistant epilepsy. The ketogenic diet can be a treatment of last resort, especially for children. The beneficial effect of the ketogenic diet has been proven, but information is lacking about its cost-effectiveness. In the current study we will evaluate the (cost-) effectiveness of the ketogenic diet in children and adolescents with intractable epilepsy. Methods/Design: In a RCT we will compare the ketogenic diet with usual care. Embedded in this RCT will be a trial-based and model-based economic evaluation, looking from a societal perspective at the cost-effectiveness and cost-utility of the ketogenic diet versus usual care. Fifty children and adolescents (aged 1-18) with intractable epilepsy will be screened for eligibility before randomization into the intervention or the usual care group. The primary outcome measure is the proportion of children with a 50% or more reduction in seizure frequency. Secondary outcomes include seizure severity, side effects/complaints, neurocognitive, socio-emotional functioning, and quality of life. Costs and productivity losses will be assessed continuously by a prospective diary and a retrospective questionnaire. Measurements will take place during consults at baseline, at 6 weeks and at 4 months after the baseline period, and 3, 6, 9 and 12 months follow-up after the 4 months consult. Discussion: The proposed research project will be the first study to provide data about the cost-effectiveness of the ketogenic diet for children and adolescents with intractable epilepsy, in comparison with usual care. It is anticipated that positive results in (cost-) effectiveness of the proposed intervention will contribute to the improvement of treatment for epilepsy in children and adolescents and will lead to a smaller burden to society.