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Study Looks at Predictors of Early Treatment in Parkinson's

Higher education, greater impairment and disability linked to earlier symptomatic treatment

WEDNESDAY, July 15 (HealthDay News) -- Individuals with early Parkinson's disease who are better educated or have greater disability may require earlier symptomatic treatment, according to research published online July 13 in the Archives of Neurology.

Sotirios A. Parashos, M.D., of the Struthers Parkinson's Center in Golden Valley, Minn., and colleagues analyzed data from 413 patients with early, untreated Parkinson's disease. Subjects participated in two placebo-controlled trials of experimental drugs and were assessed for a variety of demographic, cognitive, and disability-related variables at baseline. The main end point was time to the initiation of symptomatic treatment.

The researchers found that roughly half of the subjects reached the end point within a year. Factors associated with an earlier need for treatment included higher level of education, as well as greater impairment and disability at baseline, as measured with several sections of the Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale and the Modified Rankin Scale.

"The level of education was the only demographic feature that was associated with time to initiation of symptomatic treatment, with higher education correlating with earlier symptomatic treatment," the authors write. One explanation for this could be that "patients with higher education are likely to be better advocates for their health care needs and play a more active role in medical decision-making. The impact of the patient's education level on clinical management is an unexpected finding and merits further investigation."

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