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Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Antiepileptic drugs for chronic non‐cancer pain in children and adolescents

Overview of attention for article published in Cochrane database of systematic reviews, August 2017
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  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (93rd percentile)
  • Good Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (69th percentile)

Mentioned by

1 news outlet
2 policy sources
32 X users
5 Facebook pages
1 Wikipedia page


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Antiepileptic drugs for chronic non‐cancer pain in children and adolescents
Published in
Cochrane database of systematic reviews, August 2017
DOI 10.1002/14651858.cd012536.pub2
Pubmed ID

Tess E Cooper, Philip J Wiffen, Lauren C Heathcote, Jacqui Clinch, Richard Howard, Elliot Krane, Susan M Lord, Navil Sethna, Neil Schechter, Chantal Wood


Pain is a common feature of childhood and adolescence around the world, and for many young people, that pain is chronic. The World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for pharmacological treatments for children's persisting pain acknowledge that pain in children is a major public health concern of high significance in most parts of the world. While in the past, pain was largely dismissed and was frequently left untreated, views on children's pain have changed over time, and relief of pain is now seen as importantWe designed a suite of seven reviews on chronic non-cancer pain and cancer pain (looking at antidepressants, antiepileptic drugs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, opioids, and paracetamol) in order to review the evidence for children's pain utilising pharmacological interventions in children and adolescents.As the leading cause of morbidity in the world today, chronic disease (and its associated pain) is a major health concern. Chronic pain (that is pain lasting three months or longer) can occur in the paediatric population in a variety of pathophysiological classifications (nociceptive, neuropathic, or idiopathic) relating to genetic conditions, nerve damage pain, chronic musculoskeletal pain, and chronic abdominal pain, and for other unknown reasons.Antiepileptic (anticonvulsant) drugs, which were originally developed to treat convulsions in people with epilepsy, have in recent years been used to provide pain relief in adults for many chronic painful conditions and are now recommended for the treatment of chronic pain in the WHO list of essential medicines. Known side effects of antiepileptic drugs range from sweating, headache, elevated temperature, nausea, and abdominal pain to more serious effects including mental or motor function impairment. To assess the analgesic efficacy and adverse events of antiepileptic drugs used to treat chronic non-cancer pain in children and adolescents aged between birth and 17 years, in any setting. We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) via the Cochrane Register of Studies Online, MEDLINE via Ovid, and Embase via Ovid from inception to 6 September 2016. We also searched the reference lists of retrieved studies and reviews as well as online clinical trial registries. Randomised controlled trials, with or without blinding, by any route, treating chronic non-cancer pain in children and adolescents, comparing any antiepileptic drug with placebo or an active comparator. Two review authors independently assessed studies for eligibility. We planned to use dichotomous data to calculate risk ratio and number needed to treat for one additional event, using standard methods if data were available. We assessed the evidence using GRADE and created two 'Summary of findings' tables. We included two studies with a total of 141 participants (aged 7 to 18 years) with chronic neuropathic pain, complex regional pain syndrome type 1 (CRPS-I), or fibromyalgia. One study investigated pregabalin versus placebo in participants with fibromyalgia (107 participants), and the other study investigated gabapentin versus amitriptyline in participants with CRPS-I or neuropathic pain (34 participants). We were unable to perform any quantitative analysis.Risk of bias for the two included studies varied, due to issues with randomisation (low to unclear risk), blinding of outcome assessors (low to unclear risk), reporting bias (low to unclear risk), the size of the study populations (high risk), and industry funding in the 'other' domain (low to unclear risk). We judged the remaining domains of sequence generation, blinding of participants and personnel, and attrition as low risk of bias. Primary outcomesOne study (gabapentin 900 mg/day versus amitriptyline 10 mg/day, 34 participants, for 6 weeks) did not report our primary outcomes (very low-quality evidence).The second study (pregabalin 75 to 450 mg/day versus placebo 75 to 450 mg/day, 107 participants, for 15 weeks) reported no significant change in pain scores for pain relief of 30% or greater between pregabalin 18/54 (33.3%), and placebo 16/51 (31.4%), P = 0.83 (very low-quality evidence). This study also reported Patient Global Impression of Change, with the percentage of participants feeling "much or very much improved" with pregabalin 53.1%, and placebo 29.5% (very low-quality evidence).We downgraded the evidence by three levels to very low for one of two reasons: due to the fact that there was no evidence to support or refute the use of the intervention, or that there were too few data and the number of events was too small to be meaningful. Secondary outcomesIn one small study, adverse events were uncommon: gabapentin 2 participants (2 adverse events); amitriptyline 1 participant (1 adverse event) (6-week trial). The second study reported a higher number of adverse events: pregabalin 38 participants (167 adverse events); placebo 34 participants (132 adverse events) (15-week trial) (very low-quality evidence).Withdrawals due to adverse events were infrequent in both studies: pregabalin (4 participants), placebo (4 participants), gabapentin (2 participants), and amitriptyline (1 participant) (very low-quality evidence).Serious adverse events were reported in both studies. One study reported only one serious adverse event (cholelithiasis and major depression resulting in hospitalisation in the pregabalin group) and the other study reported no serious adverse events (very low-quality evidence).There were few or no data for our remaining secondary outcomes (very low-quality evidence).We downgraded the evidence by three levels to very low due to too few data and the fact that the number of events was too small to be meaningful. This review identified only two small studies, with insufficient data for analysis.As we could undertake no meta-analysis, we were unable to comment about efficacy or harm from the use of antiepileptic drugs to treat chronic non-cancer pain in children and adolescents. Similarly, we could not comment on our remaining secondary outcomes: Carer Global Impression of Change; requirement for rescue analgesia; sleep duration and quality; acceptability of treatment; physical functioning; and quality of life.We know from adult randomised controlled trials that some antiepileptics, such as gabapentin and pregabalin, can be effective in certain chronic pain conditions.We found no evidence to support or refute the use of antiepileptic drugs to treat chronic non-cancer pain in children and adolescents.

X Demographics

X Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 32 X users who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.
Mendeley readers

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 513 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Unknown 513 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Master 76 15%
Student > Bachelor 61 12%
Researcher 55 11%
Student > Ph. D. Student 51 10%
Student > Doctoral Student 32 6%
Other 61 12%
Unknown 177 35%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 141 27%
Nursing and Health Professions 50 10%
Psychology 48 9%
Social Sciences 17 3%
Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutical Science 12 2%
Other 47 9%
Unknown 198 39%
Attention Score in Context

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 38. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 02 February 2024.
All research outputs
of 25,403,829 outputs
Outputs from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 11,493 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 327,374 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 208 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 25,403,829 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 95th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 11,493 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 39.9. This one has done well, scoring higher than 81% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 327,374 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 93% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 208 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has gotten more attention than average, scoring higher than 69% of its contemporaries.