Parkinson's Blog


High Frequency of Household Pesticide Exposure Can Double the Risk of Parkinson’s Disease Among the General Population – Beyond Pesticides Daily News Blog

(Beyond Pesticides, July 11, 2023) A study published in Parkinsonism & Related Disorders finds high exposure to household pesticides increases the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease (PD) two-fold. There is a multitude of epidemiologic research on Parkinson’s disease demonstrating several risk factors, including specific genetic mutations and external/environmental triggers (i.e., pesticide use, pollutant exposure, etc.). However, several studies find exposure to chemical toxicants, like pesticides, has neurotoxic effects or exacerbates preexisting chemical damage to the nervous system. Past studies suggest neurological damage from oxidative stress, cell dysfunction, and synapse impairment, among others, can increase the incidence of PD following pesticide exposure. Despite the widespread commercialized use of household pesticides among the general population, few epidemiologic studies examine the influence household pesticides have on the risk of PD, although many studies demonstrate the association between PD onset via occupational (work-related) pesticide exposure patterns. Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease, with at least one million Americans living with PD and about 50,000 new diagnoses annually. Alzheimer’s ranks first. The disease affects 50 percent more men than women, and individuals with PD have a variety of symptoms, including loss of muscle control and trembling, anxiety and depression, constipation and urinary difficulties, dementia, and […]

Caregiver burden in Parkinson’s disease: a mixed-methods study

Background Providing informal care for a person with Parkinson’s disease (PD) can be a demanding process affecting several dimensions of a caregiver’s life and potentially causing caregiver burden. Despite the emerging literature on caregiver burden in people with PD, little is known about the inter-relationship between quantitative and qualitative findings. Filling this knowledge gap will provide a more holistic approach to develop and design innovations aiming at reducing or even preventing caregiver burden. This study aimed to characterize the determinants of caregiver burden among informal caregivers of persons with PD, in order to facilitate the development of tailored interventions that reduce caregiver burden. Methods We conducted a cross-sectional study in The Netherlands using a sequential mixed methods approach, entailing a quantitative study of 504 persons with PD and their informal caregivers as well as a qualitative study in a representative subsample of 17 informal caregivers. The quantitative study included a standardized questionnaire of caregiver burden (Zarit Burden Inventory) and patient-related (Beck Depression Inventory, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, Acceptance of Illness Scale, MDS-Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale part II on motor functions in daily life, Self-assessment Parkinson’s Disease Disability Score), caregiver-related (Brief Coping Orientation to Problems Experience Inventory, Caregiver Activation Measurement, Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support) and interpersonal determinants (sociodemographic variables including among others gender, age, education, marital status and working status). The qualitative study consisted of semi-structured interviews. Multivariable regression and thematic analysis were used to analyse quantitative and qualitative data, respectively. Results A total of 337 caregivers were women (66.9%), and the majority of people with PD were men (N = 321, 63.7%). The mean age of persons with PD was 69.9 (standard deviation [SD] 8.1) years, and the mean disease duration was 7.2 (SD 5.2) years. A total of 366 (72.6%) persons with PD had no active employment. The mean age of informal caregivers was 67.5 (SD 9.2) years. Most informal caregivers were female (66.9%), had no active employment (65.9%) and were the spouse of the person with PD (90.7%). The mean Zarit Burden Inventory score was 15.9 (SD 11.7). The quantitative study showed that a lack of active employment of the person affected by PD was associated with a higher caregiver burden. The qualitative study revealed cognitive decline and psychological or emotional deficits of the person with PD as additional patient-related determinants of higher caregiver burden. The following caregiver-related and interpersonal determinants were associated with higher caregiver burden: low social support (quantitative study), concerns about the future (qualitative study), the caregiving-induced requirement of restrictions in everyday life (qualitative study), changes in the relationship with the person with PD (qualitative study) and a problem-focused or avoidant coping style (both studies). Integration of both data strands revealed that qualitative findings expanded quantitative findings by (1) distinguishing between the impact of the relationship with the person with PD and the relationship with others on perceived social support, (2) revealing the impact of non-motor symptoms next to motor symptoms and (3) revealing the following additional factors impacting caregiver burden: concern about the future, perceived restrictions and limitations in performing daily activities due to the disease, and negative feelings and emotional well-being. Qualitative findings were discordant with the quantitative finding demonstrating that problem-focused was associated with a higher caregiver burden. Factor analyses showed three sub-dimensions of the Zarit Burden Inventory: (i) role intensity and resource strain, (2) social restriction and anger and (3) self-criticism. Quantitative analysis showed that avoidant coping was a determinant for all three subscales, whereas problem-solved coping and perceived social support were significant predictors on two subscales, role intensity and resource strain and self-criticism. Conclusions The burden experienced by informal caregivers of persons with PD is determined by a complex interplay of patient-related, caregiver-related and interpersonal characteristics. Our study highlights the utility of a mixed-methods approach to unravel the multidimensional burden experienced by informal caregivers of persons with chronic disease. We also offer starting points for the development of a tailored supportive approach for caregivers.