(RxWiki News) There may be a key for living longer with Parkinson's disease. Patients who receive care from a neurologist as opposed to a primary care doctor may outlive those who don't.
Patients who see a neurologist also are less likely to be placed in a nursing home or break a hip. However, women and minorities with Parkinson's may be less likely to seek the advice of a neurologist.
"See a neurologist if you have Parkinson's."
Dr. Allison Wright Willis, author of the study and a physician with the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, said that doctors need to understand how care can affect health outcomes to improve the quality of lives for those with Parkinson's. She said it also can also help them to minimize avoidable health care costs.
As part of the study, researchers examined Medicare records of each new Parkinson's disease diagnosis at a particular outpatient clinic in 2002. About 138,000 were diagnosed, and about 68 percent were seen by a neurologist between 2002 and 2005.
Those who received care from a neurologist were 20 percent less likely to die over a six-year period than those seen by primary care physicians. They also were 20 percent less likely to be placed in a nursing home and 14 percent less likely to have a broken hip. The study did not take into account the severity of the disease.
Men and Caucasians fared best. Women were 22 percent less likely to seek care from a neurologist, while minorities were 17 percent less likely.
Willis noted there could be several possible reasons why women and minorities seek care from a neurologist less often. She said one reason may be because some groups of individuals are more prone to complicated types of diseases. Those with simpler types may prefer to stick with their primary care doctor.
The study was published in of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.