Blacks May Be More Severely Affected by Parkinsonism Than Whites

(Internal Medicine News) African Americans with parkinsonism have more severe symptoms, more disability, and poorer symptom management than whites, according to a report published online Dec. 13 in the Archives of Neurology.

These disparities cannot be attributed to differences between the races in age, cognitive function, or disease duration since these factors were comparable between blacks and whites in this single-center study. It appears that the racial disparities “may be explained by delayed diagnosis, referral patterns, access to care, economic factors, or a combination of all of these,” wrote Dr. J. Patrick Hemming and his associates at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (Arch. Neurol. 2010 Dec. 13 [doi:10.1001/archneurol.2010.326]).

Independently of race, both lower socioeconomic status and lower education level also were associated with more severe signs and symptoms, greater disability, and poorer management of parkinsonism in this study, which the investigators described as “the first to show health disparities in disease severity and disability in parkinsonism.”

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