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Self-driving cars: a qualitative study into the opportunities, challenges and perceived acceptability for people with epilepsy
  1. Mustafa Sultan1,
  2. Rhys H Thomas2,3
  1. 1 Faculty of Medical Sciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  2. 2 Department of Neuroscience, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, UK
  3. 3 Henry Wellcome Building, Translational and Clinical Research Institute, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Rhys H Thomas, Department of Neuroscience, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, United Kingdom; rhys.thomas{at}

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Driving restrictions faced by people with epilepsy (PWE) represent a crucial and modifiable factor that predicts their social participation. In the case of refractory epilepsy, a person may lose the ability to drive forever—a handicap associated with significant detrimental effects, including reduced employability and a lower income.1 Encouragingly, progress in self-driving car technology provides renewed hope for people restricted from driving. A self-driving car is any car in which steering or acceleration/deceleration are controlled by the vehicle, but relevant to PWE are those that require no human input to drive: fully autonomous vehicles. The UK government aims to have self-driving cars on the road by 2021.2 Promisingly, Department of Transport guidelines stipulate: ‘It would seem reasonable to allow ownership or use of a fully automated vehicle without the need to hold a driving license’.3 This could mean that all PWE will be able to ‘drive’ in the imminent future, and although this innovation is exciting, it is important to consider the views of PWE.


Eight PWE (or carers of) were recruited (four men, four women) between the ages of 31 years and 68 years. Three detailed semistructured focus groups were conducted. Recruitment and group interviews were continued until no new themes were identified. To ensure that all parties were …

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  • Contributors Both authors contributed equally to the writing of this manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Disclaimer RHT has received honoraria from Eisai, GW Pharma, Sanofi, UCB Pharma and Zogenix and meeting support from Bial, LivaNova and Novartis.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval Newcastle University Ethics Committee granted project approval (17242/2018).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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