PARKINSON’S DISEASE (PD), a chronic and progressive neurodegenerative disorder, presents with motor-type symptoms and non-motor-type symptoms. There is currently very limited research on the coping strategies of patients with PD. A novel study identified the predictors of coping strategies adopted by patients with PD, and evaluated their impact on health-related quality of life (QoL).
The study included patients with PD who had attended neurology outpatient clinics at least once in the previous year, to fulfil the prospective and observational PRIME-NL Parkinson Evaluation study. The Ways of Coping Questionnaire (WCQ) was used to measure coping, whereas the 39-item PD Questionnaire (PDQ-39) was utilised to evaluate QoL.
Factor analyses were conducted by the researchers to examine the similarities or differences in coping methods compared to previous findings in patients with PD. The interaction between employment status and QoL was tested for individuals above and below 65. Furthermore, a sensitivity analysis was conducted by excluding depression and anxiety from the study models. Additionally, the analysis was repeated without sex adjustments.
In total, 977 individuals completed the questionnaires, of whom 935 and 42 were diagnosed with PD and atypical Parkinsonism, respectively. The mean participant age was 71, with 39% being female. The coping strategies determined in the factor analyses were: ‘distancing away and fantasising’, ‘taking actions and focusing on the positives’, ‘avoidance and acceptance’, ‘planful and goal-oriented problem-solving’, and ‘seeking social assistance’.
The selection of coping technique was found to be associated with age, sex, anxiety, and education. The majority of strategies used for dealing with PD had limited effects on QoL. Personal traits and psychological status affected the coping strategies of patients with PD. However, the effect of coping behaviours on QoL was found to be modest. Among the participants, the most common source of stress was related to family issues, with 45% (n=419) reporting pressure stemming from such problems.
The interaction tests did not reveal any significant age-related differences. In the sensitivity analysis, ‘distancing’ was negatively correlated with communication, cognition, bodily discomfort, and mobility, while ‘avoidance and acceptance’ were strongly associated with better emotional health. Repeating the analysis without adjusting for sex yielded no significant differences.
The study outcomes provided insights into the factors influencing coping strategies among patients with PD and their association with QoL. However, additional research is needed to assess the practicality of discouraging or enhancing specific coping methods and their potential impact on QoL. Furthermore, future studies could explore the coping strategies employed by caregivers of patients with PD.