The psychosocial burden of essential tremor in an outpatient- and a community-based cohort

Eur J Neurol. 2011 Jul;18(7):972-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-1331.2010.03295.x. Epub 2011 Jan 18.


Background and purpose: To compare psychosocial burden in patients with essential tremor (ET) in an outpatient (OPC)- and a community-based cohort (CBC).

Methods: A sample of outpatients of a tertiary referral center (n = 180) and a community-based sample (n = 100) with ET were asked for study participation. Psychosocial aspects were assessed by a questionnaire on psychosocial aspects of ET, neuropsychological scales, quality of life, personality traits, and coping strategies.

Results: One hundred and seven patients of the OPC and 90 individuals of the CBC participated and their results are descriptively presented. Statistical analysis was restricted to 38 pairs of OPC and CBC individuals matched for age, sex, and tremor severity. One-third of these individuals reported a profound impairment in everyday or professional life. Neuropsychological scales showed a severe depression in 8% of the individuals and pathologic values for the general level of psychiatric symptoms in 26%. The main coping strategy was 'active problem-orientated coping'. Patients of the OPC perceived a more severe impact of ET on their life. Multivariate analysis revealed the Beck Depression Inventory score as the only predictive factor for the outcome variables, physical and mental component scores, of the SF-12 health survey.

Conclusions: ET causes a significant psychosocial impairment, which does depend on symptom severity but also on mood with depression as the main driving factor and other so far undetermined factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Depression / etiology
  • Essential Tremor / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Outpatients / psychology*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Surveys and Questionnaires