PhD defense by Anne Sofie Hansen

The Department of Clinical Medicine, Aalborg University and Aalborg University Hospital are pleased to invite to PhD defence by Anne Sofie Hansen, Unit for Psychiatric Research, who will defend the thesis entitled: Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures in children and adolescents - incidence, characteristics and morbidity in a Danish nationwide cohort


21.01.2021 kl. 13.00 - 16.00


The PhD defence will take place

Thursday 21th January 2021 at 13:00 pm (CET)

Due to COVID-19, the PhD defence will be held online.

For registration please write an e-mail



René Ernst Nielsen
Professor, MD, PhD
Aalborg University Hospital, Psychiatry, Denmark
Department of Clinical Medicine, Aalborg University, Denmark

Charlotte Ulrikka Rask
Professor, MD, PhD
Aarhus University Hospital, Psychiatry, Denmark
Aarhus University, Denmark

Jakob Christensen
Associate professor, MD, Dr.Med.Sci.
Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark
Aarhus University, Denmark

Assessment committee:

Janus Laust Thomsen (chairman)
Professor, MD, PhD
Department of Clinical Medicine, Aalborg University, Denmark

Isobel Heyman
Professor, MD, PhD
Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, UK
University College London, UK

Morten Lossius
Professor, MD, PhD
Oslo University Hospital, Norway
University of Oslo, Norway


About the PhD thesis

Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES), also termed functional seizures, should be considered, when evaluating children and adolescents presenting with seizure symptoms. PNES are defined as a functional neurological dis-order and around 10% of children and adolescents evaluated for seizures are expected to have PNES. The diagnostic process can be challenging as PNES may present with symptoms that mimic epilepsy. This may delay cor-rect diagnosis and lead to incorrect treatment. Emotional distress is reported by the patients and their families as well as impaired daily functioning with school absenteeism and social withdrawal.

In spite of the reported impact associated with PNES, knowledge on PNES in children and adolescents remains limited. Most prior studies have been based on small samples of children and adolescents from highly specialized clinics or adult populations. The overall aim of this PhD project was to achieve an increased understanding of childhood-onset PNES by utilizing data from the Danish nationwide patient registries.

The PhD thesis was based on three studies with the following aims:

1) To establish a cohort of children and adolescents with PNES and de-scribe the presenting incidence rates and clinical characteristics as well as explore possible differences in clinical characteristics between PNES with and without comorbid epilepsy.

2) To outline the spectrum and risk of psychiatric disorders in childhood-onset PNES prior to and in the 2 years following their PNES diagnosis, as compared to children and adolescents with epilepsy and children and adolescents with no PNES or epilepsy (termed healthy controls).

3) To describe the somatic and psychiatric hospital service use in children and adolescents with PNES 2 years before and 2 years after their PNES diagnosis, as compared to children and adolescents with epilepsy and healthy controls.
A total of 386 children and adolescents with a validated PNES diagnosis were included between 1996 and 2014 in Denmark. The findings demon-strate rising incidence rates and high morbidity, in terms of psychiatric disor-ders and primarily somatic hospital service use, in children and adolescents with PNES. The results highlight a need for planning systematic healthcare pathways with multidisciplinary treatment options to ensure early recognition and proper management of this young group of patients.


Department of Clinical Medicine, Aalborg University


Online via Zoom

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20.01.2021 kl. 09.17

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