Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 339–352 | Cite as

Knowledge and Attitudes About Parkinson’s Disease Among a Diverse Group of Older Adults

  • Sarah Pan
  • Julie Stutzbach
  • Suzanne Reichwein
  • Brian K. Lee
  • Nabila Dahodwala


Underserved minorities are vulnerable to diagnostic delays and under-treatment of Parkinson’s disease (PD). The purpose of this mixed-methods study was to understand knowledge and attitudes about PD among a racially/ethnically diverse group of community members. In the qualitative arm, ten homogeneous focus groups of 6 to 8 White, African-American and Chinese American older adults at senior centers in Philadelphia were conducted. Next, for the quantitative arm, a questionnaire of knowledge and attitudes about PD was administered among a larger group of senior center members. Themes were identified from the focus group discussions. ANOVA and chi-square tests were used to assess differences in PD knowledge and attitudes among the different racial/ethnic groups. Logistic regression analyzed for independent factors associated with barriers to treatment. Seventy-five adults participated in the focus groups (23 Whites, 36 African-Americans and 16 Chinese-Americans) and 154 completed the questionnaire (62 Whites, 47 African-Americans and 45 Chinese-Americans). One common theme about developing PD was fear of losing independence. Racial/ethnic groups identified unique barriers to care: mistrust in the healthcare system by African-Americans and language difficulties by Chinese-Americans. Eighty percent of all participants had no to some knowledge of PD. African-Americans and Chinese-Americans were more likely to perceive PD as a part of normal aging than whites. Chinese-Americans were more likely to perceive barriers to treatment than whites. A diverse sample of older adults demonstrated low levels of PD knowledge through both qualitative and quantitative methods. Many barriers to PD care were identified. Targeted community outreach and education efforts should incorporate information about PD and how to receive care.


African-American Barriers to care Chinese-American Focus groups 



This study was funded by the Parkinson Council, Inc and NIH grant K23 AG034236.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah Pan
    • 1
    • 3
  • Julie Stutzbach
    • 2
  • Suzanne Reichwein
    • 2
  • Brian K. Lee
    • 1
  • Nabila Dahodwala
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology and BiostatisticsDrexel University School of Public HealthPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of NeurologyUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Pathology and Laboratory MedicineUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  4. 4.Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders CenterPhiladelphiaUSA

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