BACKGROUND: A multidisciplinary approach is thought to be the best way to manage the motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease, but how such care should be delivered is unknown. To address this gap in knowledge, we assessed the effectiveness of an integrated multidisciplinary approach compared with usual care.
METHODS: We recruited patients for our non-randomised controlled trial from six community hospitals in the Netherlands (two in regions where the integrated care intervention was available and four in control regions that administered usual care). Eligible patients were those with Parkinson's disease, aged 20-80 years, and without severe cognitive impairment or comorbidity. Patients in the intervention group were offered an individually tailored comprehensive assessment in an expert tertiary referral centre and subsequent referrals to a regional network of allied health professionals specialised in Parkinson's disease. Primary outcomes were activities of daily living (Academic Medical Center linear disability score [ALDS]) and quality of life (Parkinson's disease quality of life questionnaire [PDQL]) measured at 4, 6, and 8 months. Secondary outcomes included motor functioning (unified Parkinson's disease rating scale, part III [UPDRS III], at 4 months), caregiver burden (belastungsfragebogen Parkinson angehörigen-kurzversion [BELA-A-k] at 4 and 8 months), and costs (during whole study period). Primary analysis was by intention to treat and included scores over 4, 6, and 8 months, with correction for baseline score. The trial is registered at Clinicaltrials.gov, number NCT00518791.
FINDINGS: We recruited 301 patients (150 patients in the intervention group and 151 in the control group) between August, 2007, and December, 2009, of whom 285 completed follow-up (last follow-up was July, 2010). 101 (67%) patients in the intervention group visited the expert centre; 49 (33%) opted not to visit the expert centre. The average ALDS score from months 4, 6, and 8, with correction for baseline score, was greater in the intervention group than in the control group (difference 1·3 points, 95% CI -2·1 to 2·8; corresponding raw logit score difference 0·1, 95% CI 0·003 to 0·2) as was the average PDQL score (difference 3·0 points, 0·4 to 5·6). Secondary analysis with correction for baseline disease severity showed no differences between groups for ALDS (difference 0·9 points, 95% CI -0·6 to 2·4; corresponding raw logit score difference 0·1, -0·02 to 0·3) or PDQL (difference 1·7 points, -1·2 to 4·6). Secondary outcomes did not differ between groups (UPDRS III score difference 0·6 points, 95% CI -1·4 to 2·6; BELA-A-k score difference 0·8 points, -0·2 to 1·8; cost difference €742, -€489 to €1950).
INTERPRETATION: This integrated care approach offered only small benefits to patients with Parkinson's disease, and these disappeared after correction for baseline disease severity. These results suggest that different approaches are needed to achieve more substantial health benefits.
FUNDING: NutsOhra Foundation, Stichting Parkinson Nederland, National Parkinson Foundation.