Background/aims: Large epidemiological prospective studies represent an important opportunity for investigating risk factors for rare diseases such as Parkinson's disease (PD). Here we describe the procedures we used for ascertaining PD cases in the EPIC (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition) study.
Methods: The following three-phase procedure was used: (1) elaboration of a NeuroEPIC4PD template for clinical data collection, (2) identification of all potential PD cases via record linkage and (3) validation of the diagnosis through clinical record revision, in a population of 220,494 subjects recruited in 7 European countries. All cases were labelled with the NeuroEPIC4PD diagnoses of 'definite', 'very likely', 'probable', or 'possible' PD.
Results: A total of 881 PD cases were identified, with over 2,741,780 person-years of follow-up (199 definite, 275 very likely, 146 probable, and 261 possible). Of these, 734 were incident cases. The mean age at diagnosis was 67.9 years (SD 9.2) and 458 patients (52.0%) were men. Bradykinesia was the most frequent presenting motor sign (76.5%). Tremor-dominant and akinetic rigid forms of PD were the most common types of PD. A total of 289 patients (32.8%) were dead at the time of the last follow-up.
Conclusions: This exercise proved that it is feasible to ascertain PD in large population-based cohort studies and offers a potential framework to be replicated in similar studies.
© 2015 S. Karger AG, Basel.