Participants needed | Improving the Diagnosis of Epilepsy, Non-Epileptic/Functional Seizures & Syncope


Have you lost consciousness because you have a diagnosis of either epilepsy, nonepileptic seizures (Nonepileptic Attack Disorder, dissociative seizures), or syncope (fainting)? A team at The University of Sheffield are investigating whether it is possible to use a ‘digital doctor’ to diagnose why a person has experienced transient loss of consciousness (TLOC) and are looking for participants.

Project title:

Improving the diagnosis of transient loss of consciousness through automated analysis of the history.

Study title:

Using a ‘digital doctor’ for diagnosis.

What’s it about?

This study will find out whether it is possible to use a ‘digital doctor’ to diagnose why a person has experienced transient loss of consciousness (TLOC). The three common reasons for TLOC are epileptic seizures, faints and dissociative seizures. This is important because people with these conditions require different tests and treatments.

The ‘digital doctor’ is a talking head presented on a computer screen that asks questions about what happened, just like a human doctor would. The ‘digital doctor’ will also ask anyone who saw you lose consciousness some questions. All answers will be recorded by the computer and analysed automatically. The research team intend to ‘train’ the ‘digital doctor’ to use the answers of people who have experienced TLOC to decide the most likely cause.

At this stage the ‘digital doctor’ will not be used to provide a diagnosis for you, and you will not be informed of any predictions that the ‘digital doctor’ makes based on your responses. The ‘digital doctor’ will not influence any investigations or treatments that you are currently having nor will have in the future in any way.

Am I eligible to take part?

You are eligible if you meet the following criteria:

  • Have a diagnosis of epilepsy, nonpileptic seizures, or syncope
  • Aged 16 and over
  • Have a computer or tablet that has a camera and microphone
  • Have access the internet
  • Have experienced transient loss of consciousness in the past (for example, losing consciousness during a seizure).

What will I have to do?

The research team will share a link with you (and the person that saw you lose consciousness, if appropriate), so you can speak to the computer-presented ‘digital doctor’. This will take no more than 20 minutes and you will be able to answer some of the questions asked by the ‘digital doctor’ by speaking to the computer. The way you speak to the computer will be audio- and video-recorded through the camera and microphone built into your computer. Other questions will be written on the computer screen and you will be asked to click on the response you wish to give.

Although not essential, it would be good if someone who has seen your episodes could speak to the ‘digital doctor’ as well. Please show this information to anyone who saw you lose consciousness if they are interested in taking part.

You will be invited to provide feedback on your experience of using the ‘digital doctor’.  You will be asked at the start of the appointment if you prefer to complete a questionnaire, be interviewed over the phone, or both after using the ‘digital doctor’. If you would rather not provide feedback, you can still take part.

PLEASE NOTE: FND Action accepts no responsibility or liability for any study content shared for participant recruitment. 


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