What is the evidence for a premorbid parkinsonian personality: a systematic review

Mov Disord. 2006 Aug;21(8):1066-72. doi: 10.1002/mds.20980.


Rigid and introverted personality type has been suggested as possibly associated with risk of Parkinson's disease (PD). However, to be a risk, the measurement of personality must precede the onset of PD, more than simply reported as personality in PD cases. Several reviews have been published examining the literature base for this suggestion; however, the issue of "premorbid" personality measurement was not emphasized. MEDLINE, EMBASE, and PSYCHINFO databases were searched for existing systematic reviews or meta-analyses, and none were found that fulfilled this criterion. The databases were searched systematically for primary research articles. Articles without robust methodology were excluded based on published quality scoring criteria. No articles met all selection criteria. Four articles met most selection criteria and three of them reported significant differences in personality features said to be present before PD onset and between PD cases and controls. PD cases were more introverted, cautious, socially alert, and tense than controls. Although the instruments used to characterize personality varied widely across studies, the general descriptions of PD patients included nervous, cautious, rigid, and conventional. There do appear to be parkinsonian characteristics, but these studies were all retrospective. To confirm that personality traits precede PD onset and are a risk for this condition, prospective research is required. Even then, the term "premorbid" is difficult to define due to the unknown latent period before onset of PD. Additional research would involve correlating personality characteristics to activities or changes in the brain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • MMPI
  • Motor Activity
  • Parkinson Disease / diagnosis
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology
  • Parkinson Disease / psychology*
  • Personality*