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Research Portfolio


Understanding epilepsy inequalities in the UK



grant amount:

£249,993 over 36 months Awarded in 2022

lead investigator:

Dr Kathryn Bush


- Dr William Owen Pickrell (Swansea University)
- Dr Rhys Thomas (Newcastle University)


Newcastle University


We know that people who live in the most deprived areas of the UK are more likely to have epilepsy. We also know that, on average, people who have epilepsy are more likely to die at a younger age than people without epilepsy. What we don’t really understand, is why these two things happen.

These differences are known as health inequalities, and are potentially preventable or reducible. Dr Bush’s team want to explore these areas further to understand the causes of epilepsy and deaths in people with epilepsy, and then design public health interventions to try and prevent them.

"We will use Big Data to understand why people with epilepsy die early and why people living in the most deprived areas of the UK are more likely to have epilepsy than those in the least deprived areas. These differences are known as health inequalities. Once we understand this, we can design and model population level interventions, to try and reduce the numbers of people developing epilepsy and dying early. We can then use this information to influence those who make health strategy and policy decisions in the UK, raising the profile of people with epilepsy and make reducing epilepsy inequalities a healthcare priority.

The Study

Using anonymous medical records from GPs, hospitals, death certificates and government, Dr Bush will look at the causes of epilepsy and epilepsy deaths in terms of levels of deprivation, and will use statistical methods to work out what these results mean.


By the end of this study, the team hope to understand the relationship between epilepsy and levels of deprivation, and how the causes of epilepsy deaths are linked to deprivation. Once they have this information, they will design interventions to prevent cases of epilepsy and deaths in people with epilepsy, at a population level. Using mathematical models to examine the data, Dr Bush will then look at the potential impact of these interventions. The interventions may be novel or they may already exist for other medical conditions.

The findings of this research will be used to make changes to the way care for people with epilepsy is provided, in order to reduce preventable deaths, and make Public Health recommendations aiming to prevent cases of epilepsy at a national level.