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Group Visits With Doctor May Benefit Parkinson's Patients

WEDNESDAY, April 27 (HealthDay News) -- Group visits to a doctor are effective for Parkinson's disease patients, researchers say.

The new study included 14 patients who received care through group visits with their regular doctor over one year and 13 patients who received usual care. The study participants had mild to moderate Parkinson's disease.

Patients in the usual care group had 30-minute appointments with their doctor every three to six months. The group visits lasted 90 minutes and were scheduled every three months. During these group appointments, time was taken to make introductions, receive patient updates, and discuss and provide education on a topic selected by the patients. The group session also allowed for time to answer questions from patients or their caregivers.

In addition, before or after each group session, each patient had a 10-minute individual appointment with the doctor.

By the end of the year, there were no differences in how patients receiving group or individual care rated their quality of life. None of the patients who had group visits reported confidentiality issues, the investigators noted.

The findings, published in the April 27 online edition of the journal Neurology, suggest that group visits could address limitations of support groups and traditional doctor visits, said study author Dr. E. Ray Dorsey of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

"While both support groups and traditional visits have clear benefits, a survey of people with Parkinson's showed that they desire a credible group leader for their support groups and more information for them and their caregivers about their disease," Dorsey said in an American Academy of Neurology news release.

"Group visits can address these limitations. They also give physicians the opportunity to observe their patients for a longer period of time and appreciate disease characteristics such as fluctuations in their symptoms and daytime sleepiness that may not readily be appreciated during a routine 20- to 30-minute office visit," Dorsey added.

More information

We Move has more about Parkinson's disease.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, April 27, 2011

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