Supporting Patients With Parkinson Disease During COVID-19: James Beck, PhD


The chief scientific officer of the Parkinson’s Foundation discussed strategies to close the gap between household income and telehealth use.

“I think one of the things that we are working to do is to increase knowledge about telemedicine, provide support online, and to encourage people to utilize friends and family members to help them with telemedicine. Many people who live with Parkinson's are elderly, so a lot of these individuals may be more technically challenged than others. Having a care partner, a loved one, a family member, or a friend available to help them with their telemedicine visit is really important.”

The Parkinson’s Foundation, in collaboration with the Movement Disorders Division of the Department of Neurology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and the New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center conducted a survey that revealed disparities in telehealth use between income and education levels in people with Parkinson disease (PD).

As a whole, telehealth use for the 1342 surveyed patients increased from 9.7% prior to the pandemic to 63.5% during. Household income greater than $100,000 per year was associated with the highest amounts of telehealth use (odds ratio [OR], 1.54; 95% CI, 1.06–1.76), as was postsecondary education (OR, 2.05; 95% CI, 1.16–3.62), and telehealth use prior to the COVID-19 pandemic (OR, 2.27; 95% CI, 1.34–3.85).

NeurologyLive reached out to James Beck, PhD, chief scientific officer, Parkinson’s Foundation, and adjunct associate professor, department of neuroscience and physiology, New York University School of Medicine, to learn more about the challenges that patients with PD face during the COVID pandemic. He discussed how friends and family can help assist patients with Parkinson disease in scheduling and attending telemedicine appointments.

Feeney MP, Xu Y, Surface M, et al. The impact of COVID-19 and social distancing on people with Parkinson’s disease: a survey study. NPJ Parkinsons Dis. 2021. 7(10). doi: 10.1038/s41531-020-00153-8
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