Skip to main content

The Prevalence of Epilepsy in Ireland study

The Prevalence of Epilepsy in Ireland Report was launched in 2009. It was the first national epilepsy prevalence study undertaken anywhere in Europe and identified for the first time, accurate figures on the number of people with epilepsy in Ireland. The study was commissioned by Epilepsy Ireland and conducted by the UCD Centre for Disability Studies.

It was published in the journal Epilepsia in 2010.


The study revealed that there are up to 37,000 people with epilepsy in Ireland and that this number may be increasing.

Among its key findings are:

  • A national prevalence of treated epilepsy of 9 per 1,000 people for those over the age of 5, meaning that there are 36,844 people over the age of 5 years living with epilepsy in Ireland
  • A gradual year-on-year increase in the prevalence of treated epilepsy for each year under consideration in the study (from 8.3 per 1,000 people in 2002 to 9.0 per 1,000 in 2005).
  • A national lifetime prevalence of self-reported epilepsy among adults of 10 per 1,000 people, meaning that 31,000 people over the age of 18 have been given a diagnosis of epilepsy.
  • An average of 17 cases of epilepsy seen each week per consultant neurologist, or 442 consultations nationwide per week.
  • An average of 13 patients with epilepsy in the care of each GP nationwide.
  • An estimated 67 episodes of in-patient care occurring weekly in Irish hospitals as a result of epilepsy, or 3,481 each year.

Five separate sources of nationwide data were examined as part of the study:

  • Prescription drug data
  • Self Report data gathered from the CSO's Quarterly National Household Survey
  • GP data
  • Specialist Care data
  • Irish Hospital Inpatient Enquiry System data

The data also shows that the rate of treated epilepsy for those aged 5 years and above varies considerably by region. The lowest rates were observed in the Eastern Region (7.9 cases per 1,000 people in 2005) while the Western Region had the highest rates (10.8 cases per 1,000 people in 2005). The condition was also found to be more prevalent as age increases and is slightly more commonly observed in men.


Examining the prevalence of epilepsy and delivery of epilepsy care in Ireland
Epilepsia, 51: 845-852.

See also - summary report below

Downloadable Resources