A recent study has found that offering telehealth services to patients with Parkinson’s disease can help increase awareness around their palliative care options and improve their quality of life.
A study of 359 patients with Parkinson disease and related disorders found that those receiving interdisciplinary team-based palliative care support via telehealth reported higher quality of life (QOL) scores than those who did not.
Researchers of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Neurology study compared the experiences of Parkinson patients across 19 neurology providers supported by palliative care teams at two academic centers. Patient data was analyzed from January 2021 to September 2023.
Quality outcomes were different for patients after six months of receiving telepalliative care services, the study found. A large portion, 95%, of participants indicated that they received better care interventions compared to others. The study also dug into the potential quality impacts of expanding palliative care education among neurologists.
“Palliative care education for community neurologists and provision of team-based PC via telehealth is feasible and may improve QOL and advance care planning,” researchers stated in the study findings. “Overall, treatment effects were small and suggest opportunities to improve both the intervention and implementation. Advance directive completion was higher under the intervention.”
Parkinson patients in the study who received telehealth palliative care reported lower symptoms of depression. These patients were also more likely to complete advance directive documentation, with about 50% of the telehealth palliative participants doing so compared to 19% of others.
Seniors 50 and older represent about 5% to 10% of the nearly 1 million individuals in the United States who have Parkinson disease or a related condition, according to data from the Parkinson’s Foundation.
Patients’ needs can differ according to age and disease progression, with pain and symptom management often requiring more intensive levels of care in aging populations, the report indicated.
Seniors with Parkinson disease can experience severe tremors or mobility limitations that impair their ability to eat, speak, stand, walk and even blink or change facial expressions. Other symptoms include depression, memory loss and difficulty sleeping.
“I think we’re finding that palliative care is very viable for patients with advanced Parkinson disease,” Dr. Neha Kramer, palliative neurologist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, told Hospice News. “Some patients can have a lot of time left … We need more research on an objective level to understand what are the precursors to this that need to be more disease-specific and look into how they are different for Parkinson disease and related disorders.”