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Studying the Epidemiology of Parkinson’s Disease in Latin America: Learning from Underrepresented Populations

Study Rationale: Initial evidence has shown that the global distribution of Parkinson’s disease (PD) may vary; however, little is known about the prevalence of PD across large parts of the world. This information is lacking because population surveys are difficult to perform and they require a very large number of participants and a highly trained team of researchers or clinicians who can diagnose PD. In this project we focus on collecting data on the distribution of PD in six countries in Latin America: Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.

Hypothesis: We expect to find that PD is more common in Latin America compared to other world regions and that health inequalities may explain some of these differences.

Study Design: We will conduct a statistical analyses of a large survey of almost 13,000 older adults that was carried out in six Latin American countries by the 10/66 Research Group. This data set is unique and will allow us to explore many questions, including country variations, and burden of PD in those populations. Throughout this project we will collaborate with the Alianza Iberoamericana de Parkinson (Ibero-American Parkinson’s Alliance), a patient-led organization that aims to increase the quantity, quality and accessibility of resources and training available to people with PD and their families in the Spanish speaking world.

Impact on Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson’s disease: It is difficult to justify increasing funding for PD treatment and services in Latin America without more accurate and robust research in the region. This project will raise the profile of PD among the Latin American population and generate findings that can be used for service planning and patient advocacy.

Next Steps for Development: This project will establish a foundation for future PD research in Latin America. The next steps could include a research prioritization exercise for Latin America and testing the applicability of clinical models that have been developed outside of the region to identify people at a higher risk of developing PD.


  • Jorge J. Llibre Guerra, MD, MSc

    Saint Louis, MO United States

  • Matthew Prina, PhD

    London United Kingdom

  • Caroline Tanner, MD, PhD

    San Francisco, CA United States

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