Intended for healthcare professionals

Primary Care

Effects of community based nurses specialising in Parkinson's disease on health outcome and costs: randomised controlled trial

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 04 May 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:1072
  1. Brian Jarman, emeritus professor,
  2. Brian Hurwitz (b.hurwitz{at}, professor,
  3. Adrian Cook, research analyst,
  4. Madhavi Bajekal, honorary research fellow,
  5. Alison Lee, research analyst
  1. Department of Primary Health Care and General Practice, Centre for Primary Care and Social Medicine, Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine, London W6 8RP
  1. Correspondence to: B Hurwitz
  • Accepted 15 January 2002


Objective: To determine the effects of community based nurses specialising in Parkinson's disease on health outcomes and healthcare costs.

Design: Two year randomised controlled trial.

Setting: 438 general practices in nine randomly selected health authority areas of England.

Participants: 1859 patients with Parkinson's disease identified by the participating general practices.

Main outcome measures: Survival, stand-up test, dot in square test, bone fracture, global health question, PDQ-39, Euroqol, and healthcare costs.

Results: After two years 315 (17.3%) patients had died, although mortality did not differ between those who were attended by nurse specialists and those receiving standard care from their general practitioner (hazard ratio for nurse group v control group 0.91, 95% confidence interval 0.73 to 1.13). No significant differences were found between the two groups for the stand-up test (odds ratio 1.15, 0.93 to 1.42) and dot in square score (difference Embedded Image0.7, Embedded Image3.25 to 1.84). Scores on the global health question were significantly better in patients attended by nurse specialists than in controls (difference Embedded Image0.23, Embedded Image0.4 to Embedded Image0.06), but no difference was observed in the results of the PDQ-39 or Euroqol questionnaires. Direct costs for patient health care increased by an average of £2658 during the study, although not differentially between groups: the average increase was £266 lower among patients attended by a nurse specialist (Embedded Image£981 to £449).

Conclusions: Nurse specialists in Parkinson's disease had little effect on the clinical condition of patients, but they did improve their patients' sense of wellbeing, with no increase in patients' healthcare costs.

What is already known on this topic

What is already known on this topic Most patients with Parkinson's disease have no regular contact with consultants specialising in the condition

Contact by nurse specialists of patients attending hospital increases provision of information and is subjectively valued

It has not been shown whether nurse specialists improve psychosocial functioning

What this study adds

What this study adds Provision of community based nurses specialists in Parkinson's disease does not slow clinical progression of the condition

Nurses specialists help to preserve patients' sense of wellbeing

Healthcare costs are not increased


  • Funding Paul Hamlyn Foundation, the Parkinson's Disease Society, and Britannia Pharmaceuticals.

  • Competing interests Britannia Pharmaceuticals, manufacturer of apomorphine and former distributor of selegiline, part funded this research.

  • Accepted 15 January 2002
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