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Race, Economics Linked to Parkinsonism Outcomes

African-Americans have more disability compared to whites, less likely to be on dopaminergic drugs

MONDAY, Dec. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Race and socioeconomic status appear to influence disease severity related to parkinsonism in patients treated at a tertiary Movement Disorders Center, according to research published online Dec. 13 in the Archives of Neurology.

J. Patrick Hemming, M.D., of the University of Maryland in Baltimore, and colleagues analyzed data from 1,159 patients with parkinsonism treated at the University of Maryland Movement Disorders Center.

The authors found that most patients were white (93.4 versus 6.1 percent African-American), most earned more than $50,000 annually (61.2 percent), most completed college (62.7 percent), and most had a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease (79.2 percent). African-Americans had greater disability and disease severity than whites, with 29.8 versus 25.3 on the Older Americans Resources and Services subscale total score and 53 versus 42.8 on the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale total score. African-Americans were also less likely to receive dopaminergic medications, especially newer medications. Having lower income or education level was linked to greater disease severity and disability.

"Racial and socioeconomic status disparities are complex phenomena. Parkinsonism reduces quality of life and results in disability and premature mortality. The results of this study suggest we need to better understand the cause of parkinsonism and to find remedies for disparate outcomes among patients with parkinsonian disease who are of different backgrounds and means," the authors conclude.

Several co-authors disclosed financial relationships with pharmaceutical companies.

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