Parkinson's Disease in African Americans: A Review of the Current Literature

J Parkinsons Dis. 2020;10(3):831-841. doi: 10.3233/JPD-191823.


Parkinson's disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disease, though evidence suggests that this disorder does not affect all racial groups similarly. Research in African Americans, in particular, has been conflicting. Some studies have found similar prevalence rates in African Americans and whites whereas other studies have found much lower prevalence and incidence rates in African Americans. A few studies identify potential factors underlying these discrepancies, including biologic differences as well as disparities in healthcare access. However, African Americans remain underrepresented in research studies, which make understanding the underlying reasons for these differences difficult. The purpose of this paper is to summarize existing research in African Americans with PD, highlight some of the reasons why differences exist in diagnostic rates of PD in this population, and briefly discuss interventions that may need to be made in order to ensure adequate care is provided to these patients.

Keywords: African Americans; Parkinson’s disease; epidemiology; healthcare disparities.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • African Americans* / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Parkinson Disease / diagnosis*
  • Parkinson Disease / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • United States
  • Whites / statistics & numerical data*