Parkinson’s Foundation to Present Most Recent Mental Health Research Findings

Non-movement Parkinson’s disease (PD) symptoms can impact mental health, relationships and quality of life. The Parkinson’s Foundation has conducted two recent studies dedicated to learning more about treating non-movement symptoms within its Center of Excellence Network.

Centers of Excellence are medical centers with a specialized team who are up to date on the latest Parkinson’s medications, therapists and research to provide the best care to a combined 185,500 people with Parkinson’s.

MDSThis year, the Parkinson’s Foundation will share their research findings at two international conferences: at the International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders in Nice, France, and at the World Parkinson Congress (WPC), which took place in June at Kyoto, Japan.

Both conferences gather thousands of neurologists, researchers and health professionals in the Parkinson’s community.

Multidisciplinary Care Models for Parkinson’s Disease: The Parkinson’s Foundation Centers of Excellence Experience

People living with Parkinson's benefit most from a comprehensive, team-based healthcare approach, where different specialists treat motor and non-motor symptoms as the disease progresses. Every Center of Excellence works with a multidisciplinary team in one of three different care models:

  1. Team members are all in the same institution.
  2. Team members are within different, but affiliated institutions.
  3. Team members are in separate institutions, mainly community based.

The Parkinson’s Foundation studied usage of complementary health therapies across the three models and examined relationship between therapy usage and clinical outcomes. The study used Parkinson’s Outcomes Project (the largest ongoing Parkinson’s study) data to analyze 10,058 patients from 22 designated centers. The study showed that:

  • Therapy referrals varies across different disciplines among Centers of Excellence, with physical therapy being the most common referral.
  • Psychosocial and mental health therapies may be underutilized ― in terms of physician’s referrals and patients seeing a mental health professional.  
  • There were significant differences in clinical outcomes across care models.

These findings show the need to expand our understanding of how different care models and therapies (such as occupational, physical and psychological) affects care and outcomes for people with PD.

This study was shared at the 2019 World Parkinson Congress in Kyoto, Japan. Authors: Clarissa Martinez-Rubio, PhD, Jennifer G. Goldman, MD, MS, Samuel S. Wu, PhD, Hanzhi Gao, Fernando Cubillos, MD, Nadia Romero and Veronica L. Todaro, MPH.

Relationships of Gender, Care Models and Neuropsychiatric Symptoms In Parkinson’s Disease

In this study, the Parkinson’s Foundation compared complementary health therapies across the three care models mentioned above in relation to the difference between men and women living with Parkinson’s, their outcomes, management of the neuropsychiatric symptoms ― specifically depression and psychosis.

womanUsing data from the Parkinson’s Outcomes Project, we studied 10,058 people with PD seeking treatment at 22 Parkinson’s Foundation centers who experienced depression or psychosis, referred to a psychologist or psychiatrist and receiving antipsychotic or antidepressant medication. The study showed that:

  • Depression and psychosis are experienced and treated differently depending on gender.
  • Psychosocial and mental health therapies may be underutilized ― in terms of physician’s referrals and patients seeing a mental health professional.  
  • Significantly more women than men were identified with depression, self-reported limitation of activity due to depression and received antidepressant medication.
  • People with Parkinson’s who sought care at a center with an external allied healthcare team were significantly more likely to be hospitalized due to mental health, gastrointestinal issues and DBS-related symptoms.

These findings show the need to expand our understanding of how different care models and usage of complementary therapies affects care and outcomes for people with PD, as well as, the need to expand our understanding on how gender affects these factors

This study was shared at the 2019 International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders in Nice, France. Authors: Jennifer G. Goldman, MD, MS, Clarissa Martinez-Rubio, PhD, Samuel S. Wu, PhD, Hanzhi Gao, and Veronica L. Todaro, MPH.

Learn more about the Parkinson’s Outcomes Project at Parkinson.org/Research.

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