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Parkinson's Disease Health Center

Group Doctor Visits May Help Parkinson’s Patients

Researchers Say Group Sessions Give Patients More Time With Doctors
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

April 27, 2011 -- Group doctor visits may be a preferred form of care for some people with Parkinson’s disease, a study shows.

The new research appears online in Neurology.

Parkinson’s is a progressive movement disorder affecting nearly 1 million people in the U.S. 

Group doctor visits have been shown to enhance quality of life for people with other chronic health conditions, including diabetes and heart disease. But this is the first time that this approach has been studied among people with Parkinson’s disease.

In the study, group sessions lasted 90 minutes and were held every three months. They consisted of a brief introduction, followed by 10 minutes of patient updates, 40-minute education sessions on a topic chosen by the group, and 20 minutes of questions and answers followed by a brief 10-minute one-on-one meeting with the doctor.

The greatest number of participants in any of the sessions was 13 -- seven patients and six caregivers.

Group Visits vs. Traditional Care

After one year, there was no difference in quality of life seen among people who took part in the group sessions vs. those who had individual half-hour visits with their doctors every three to six months. There were no confidentiality issues expressed by people in the group sessions.

All participants in the study had mild to moderate Parkinson's disease. The findings may not apply to people with advanced Parkinson’s disease.

Researchers set out to determine how willing people with Parkinson’s disease and their caregivers would be to take part in such group sessions. After the study, eight of 14 people who received group care said they preferred it. Five wanted to go back to traditional care and one person was indifferent. Among those in the traditional care group, five of 14 said they wanted group care, six preferred their usual care, and three were undecided.

The best way to provide care for people with Parkinson’s disease is a work in progress, says study researcher Ray Dorsey, MD, a neurologist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

As it stands, many people with Parkinson’s disease remain in the waiting room for at least 20 minutes before they see their doctor. And they have limited time with their doctor. As a result, they aren’t satisfied with the level of care that they receive.

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