What are the most important nonmotor symptoms in patients with Parkinson's disease and are we missing them?

Mov Disord. 2010 Nov 15;25(15):2493-500. doi: 10.1002/mds.23394.


Nonmotor symptoms (NMS) are increasingly recognized as important and neglected aspects of Parkinson's disease (PD). We evaluated their relative frequency and comparative impact on health-related quality of life (Hr-QoL) using validated questionnaires. In addition, we assessed the rate of reporting of NMS in neurology clinics compared with their subjective impact on patients. We used a range of validated clinimetric scales of motor and nonmotor symptoms and Hr-QoL to assess consecutive patients with PD. Reporting of NMS was assessed by comparison with case note documentation. A mean of 11 of 30 NMS per patient were elicited on the NMS questionnaire of which on average 4.8 were reported in the clinical notes (44%). The most common NMS were autonomic (particularly urinary). The Hr-QoL scores correlated most strongly with autonomic dysfunction (r = 0.84; particularly urinary and gastrointestinal symptoms), mood (r = 0.74), fatigue (r = 0.74), sleep problems (nocturnal r = 0.55; daytime somnolence r = 0.65), pain (r = 0.56), and psychosis (r = 0.55, all p < 0.0001) followed by UPDRS motor score (r = 0.48, p < 0.0001). Greater motor fluctuations (r = 0.57) and dyskinesia (r = 0.43, both p < 0.0001) were also associated with worse Hr-QoL. In multivariate analysis, depression had the strongest association with Hr-QoL (adjusted R(2) = 0.53, p = 0.005) followed by fatigue, thermoregulatory, gastrointestinal, and cardiovascular autonomic function (especially orthostatic hypotension), daytime somnolence, and urinary problems. This study demonstrates that a autonomic dysfunction, psychiatric complications, pain, fatigue, and sleep problems are major correlates of poor Hr-QoL. However, whilst psychiatric problems are increasingly documented, many symptoms (particularly those possibly perceived as embarrassing or unrelated) remain under-reported.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Autonomic Nervous System Diseases / complications*
  • Depression / complications*
  • Fatigue / complications*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parkinson Disease / complications
  • Parkinson Disease / diagnosis*
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology
  • Quality of Life
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / complications*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires