Accuracy of diagnosis in patients with presumed Parkinson's disease

Age Ageing. 1999 Mar;28(2):99-102. doi: 10.1093/ageing/28.2.99.


Objectives: to study the diagnostic accuracy for parkinsonism and Parkinson's disease in a community-based sample of subjects on anti-parkinsonian medication.

Methods: computerized prescribing records in general practice were used to create a community-based disease register for Parkinson's disease. Subjects were examined to establish the likely diagnosis using recommended clinical diagnostic criteria.

Results: of 402 cases, parkinsonism was confirmed in 74% and clinically probable Parkinson's disease in 53%. The commonest causes of misdiagnosis were essential tremor, Alzheimer's disease and vascular pseudo-parkinsonism. Over one-quarter of subjects did not benefit from anti-parkinsonian medication.

Conclusions: there is difficulty in diagnosing parkinsonism and Parkinson's disease in elderly subjects and we suggest early referral of those suspected of having parkinsonism for specialist assessment.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease / diagnosis*
  • Reproducibility of Results