Original Article| Volume 63, ISSUE 6, P1031-1040, June 2022

What's in the Sauce? The Specific Benefits of Palliative Care for Parkinson's Disease



      Increasing evidence demonstrates the benefits of palliative care among individuals with Parkinson's disease and related disorders (PDRD), but the critical components that contribute to therapeutic effects are not well understood.


      To determine the specific items most responsive to a palliative care intervention in PDRD and identify key correlates of improvement in patient and care partner outcomes.


      The main trial was a pragmatic comparative effectiveness trial of outpatient integrated palliative care compared to standard care among participants with PDRD (NCT02533921), showing significantly higher patient QOL at six months and lower care partner burden at 12 months. We used longitudinal regression models to analyze changes in subdomains of patient QOL and care partner burden and Spearman correlations to evaluate key correlates of change scores in patient and care partner outcomes. We performed a secondary analysis of data from 210 patients and 175 care partners.


      Compared to controls, patients in the intervention reported greater improvement in perceptions of the “self as a whole” at six months (coeff = 0.22, P < 0.05) and care partners reported greater reduction in stress, anger, and loss of control at 12 months (coeff = -.40, -0.25, -0.31, P < 0.05). Positive change in numerous patient non-motor symptoms and grief correlated with improved patient QOL, reduced patient anxiety, and increased care partner spirituality. Alleviation of care partner anxiety and depression correlated with reduced care partner burden.


      Specific benefits of an integrated palliative approach in PDRD include improvement in patient holistic self-impressions, care partner self-efficacy, and non-motor symptoms.

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