National Parkinson Foundation to create clinical tool to further define stages of Parkinson's disease

Liz Meszaros, MDLinx | January 12, 2017

A clinical questionnaire that definitively defines the transition between early and mid-Parkinson’s disease (PD) and advanced PD is currently being developed by the National Parkinson Foundation (NPF) in collaboration with The Cure Parkinson’s Trust (CPT), AbbVie, and a steering committee consisting of physicians from around the world.


Defining stages of Parkinson's disease

National Parkinson Foundation developing clinical questionnaire to help clinicians distinguish the transition to advanced disease in their patients.

This initiative is based, in part, on the lack of a definition of advanced Parkinson’s disease. Current guidelines do not recommend the use of any scales for disease staging. Furthermore, although expert neurologists have such scales to measure Parkinson’s symptoms, no evidence-based recommendations on how to translate scores into a treatment or management approach exist.

With this new tool, developers hope to standardize care assessment for all medical professionals who may be involved in the identification and treatment of PD.

“Research has shown a gulf between expert care and average care.  Together, NPF and AbbVie are working to help identify the criteria that expert neurologists use to evaluate a patient for a change in intervention,” said Peter N. Schmidt, PhD, NPF’s senior vice president, research, and professional programs and chief mission officer. “Patients experiencing uncontrolled ‘off’ episodes or other PD symptoms have options.  The goal is to remain one step ahead of disease progression and to help people live well with Parkinson’s.”

Developers will use the following criteria to develop the questionnaire:

  • Describe the phases of PD that links the patient’s status to a stage-appropriate set of potential treatments.
  • Develop a simple screening approach that can be used to evaluate patients in any clinical setting.
  • Be dynamic and updatable to reflect the latest PD guidelines and treatment options.  

The questionnaire will initially be piloted at NPF Centers of Excellence participating in the Parkinson's Outcomes Project, the largest clinical study of PD in the world, and will be available to all clinicians in the second half of 2017.