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Disparities in PD Care

A new study of the patterns and cost of medical care has revealed that an astonishing one-half of older people with PD have never visited a neurologist in five years…and that poorer people are significantly less likely to have seen one than those of higher income.

The study, conducted by Dr. Joyce Pressley, an epidemiologist at Columbia University in New York City (and supported with a grant from the PDF) also showed that people with PD are almost twice as likely as other people of the same age to suffer broken bones and other serious injuries resulting from falls.

In addition, Dr. Pressley found that PWPs used more home health care, PT and skilled nursing facilities than the comparison group. They also had longer office-based physician visits than people without PD – a fact that has significant implications for the quality of their care, since it suggests that limits to reimbursement levels under Medicare and private insurance companies may often force their doctors to spend less time with patients than is needed.

These and many additional facts (please refer to the 2001 Spring issue of the PDF News for the complete article) emerged which led this author to conclude “The findings that the majority of lower-educated PD subjects do not obtain their care from a neurologist and of a high injury rate in the PD populations suggests potentially fruitful areas for physician education programs and public health initiatives.” Among thse areas are increased patient and physician education on the importance of avoiding falls, and continuing education on PD management at the professional meetings of general and family care practitioners. Dr. Pressley also suggested increased attention to physical and occupational therapies, which are important in the treatment of PD but which are known to be under-utilized among PWPs – especially those of low socio-economic status.

Source Date: Jun 25 2001