Patient education and health promotion can be effective in Parkinson's disease: A randomized controlled trial
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We performed a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness of a patient education and health promotion program in the treatment of Parkinson's disease. The health promotion program (PROPATH) was designed to improve health confidence, provide information and support, improve physical function through exercise, and work with the physician to optimize medical treatment and compliance. The intervention was delivered by mail, with disease assessment questionnaires completed by patient or caregiver at 0, 2, 4, and 6 months, with computer-generated reports and individualized recommendation letters returned to patients and reports to physicians. Two hundred ninety patients completed the 6-month trial, 140 patients in the intervention group and 150 in a control group of patients who received only questionnaires. The intervention group had significantly increased exercise, decreased "time off" and percentage of time off, reduced side effects, and decreased summary Parkinson's scores by approximately 10% (P > 0.05). Twelve of 13 variables showed differences favoring the intervention group. The rate of progression of summary scores became essentially flat during the program for the intervention group and continued to rise sharply for controls (P > 0.01). Levodopa dose rose for controls and slightly decreased for the intervention group. Doctor visits, hospital days, and sick days were reduced in the intervention group. The quality-of-life assessment demonstrated improvement in patient global, self-efficacy scores, and spouse or caregiver assessments. We conclude that a low-cost patient education program provides a useful adjunct to medical therapy of Parkinson's disease, may reduce costs, and can improve intermediate term outcomes.
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