Study Rationale: Research on Parkinson’s disease (PD) has focused mainly on White, affluent populations. Little is known about PD in people of color. East London is one of the most diverse parts of the United Kingdom and has a large number of residents from Bangladesh. Some evidence suggests that cognitive problems such as dementia may be more common in South Asian and Black people compared to Whites. Additional differences in mood and hallucinations may also exist, which would have implications for care. To explore these potential differences in cognition, we need to identify which tests offer the fairest comparison across ethnic groups.
Hypothesis: We expect to see differences in cognition and psychiatric symptoms in South Asian, White and Black people with PD, but we predict that some of these apparent differences may be exaggerated and that smaller differences will be found when using fairer tests.
Study Design: We will recruit 200 people with PD and 100 healthy volunteers in the UK. All participants will undergo a two-hour assessment that includes tests of memory, thinking, mood, movement and other feature. Given that a large number of South Asian individual in East London come from Bangladesh, we have partnered with neurologists in Bangladesh to repeat the same study there with a similar number of participants. Alongside all of this clinical data, we will also collect DNA from saliva samples for use in the Global Parkinson’s Genetics Program (GP2).
Impact on Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease: There has been far too little research on PD in persons of color and individuals from different ethnic groups. This project will reveal the extent to which cognitive problems affect those with PD of different ethnic backgrounds, individuals who are among the most vulnerable and who may warrant special attention.
Next Steps for Development: We envisage pursuing further research to understand more about the causes of cognitive problems in diverse populations and to explore how changes in the brain contribute to these differences.