10 November 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced challenges to the social life and care of people with Parkinson’s disease (PD), which could potentially worsen mental health problems. Despite an increasing body of literature on mental health in people with PD during the COVID-19 pandemic, insight into subgroup differences regarding the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health remains limited. This lack of insight has so far precluded the deployment of targeted interventions.

In this study among people with PD, the researchers investigated subgroup differences in the association of COVID-19 stressors with mental health and explored whether hypothetical interventions on COVID-19 stressors could improve mental health and quality of life. This study was conducted as part of the PRIME-NL study, a prospective cohort study of people with parkinsonism and their caregivers, and included 844 people with PD who filled out the baseline questionnaire of the PRIME-NL study. The project was led by Lisanne Dommershuijsen and Sirwan Darweesh and involved a joint effort of researchers in the field of Parkinson’s disease, from the Centre of Expertise for Parkinson and Movement Disorders of the Radboudumc, and Epidemiology, from the department of Epidemiology of the Erasmus MC. The results were published in npj Parkinson’s disease on October 28th

They have found an association between all eight studied COVID-19 related stressors and symptoms of depression and anxiety. The largest effect was found for the stressor tension or conflict at home. Associations were more pronounced in women, people with a higher education and people with more advanced PD. Furthermore, a hypothetical 50% reduction of COVID-19 stressors in people with more advanced PD resulted in clinically relevant improvements in depressive and anxiety symptoms and quality of life in this subgroup of patients.

Insights from this study will help to inform tailored care interventions to subgroups of people with PD that are most vulnerable to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health. An example of such an intervention is mindfulness, which has recently been identified as a way to reduce stress, anxiety and depression in people with PD. It is thus of interest to further study whether mindfulness training can help to reduce the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health in people with PD.


Dommershuijsen, L.J., Van der Heide, A., Van den Berg, E.M. et al. Mental health in people with Parkinson’s disease during the COVID-19 pandemic: potential for targeted interventions?. npj Parkinsons Dis. 7, 95 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41531-021-00238-y


Related news items

Five million euro’s for joint research on rare movement disorders

29 March 2022 A Dutch consortium will receive almost 5 million euro’s from NWO to jointly start an ambitious project, called CureQ, on various rare and genetic brain disorders that lead to abnormal movements. Bart van de Warrenburg was one of the main applicants of this ‘Nationale Wetenschaps Agenda (NWA)’ grant. read more

Development of RNA therapy for rare movement disorder SCA7 Brain Foundation grant for Radboudumc and LUMC

3 February 2022 Neurologist Bart van de Warrenburg, together with Willeke van Roon-Mom and Annemieke Aartsma-Rus (both LUMC/Dutch Center for RNA Therapeutics), has been awarded 400,000 euros by the Dutch Brain Foundation to develop a genetic therapy for the rare hereditary movement disorder SCA7. read more

Aerobe exercise has a positive effect on brain function in Parkinson's disease patients

18 January 2022 Radboudumc researchers have shown that the brain function of patients with Parkinson's disease improved with regular exercise, which seems to strengthen the connections between different brain areas, while inhibiting brain shrinkage. read more

New genetic defect links cell biology and protein glycosylation

10 November 2021 Peter Linders, Dirk Lefeber and Geert van den Bogaart together with international colleagues have recently reported on novel cell biological insights, by identifying a genetic disorder in syntaxin-5 which allowed to unravel a new mechanism regulating intracellular transportation. read more

Tiny blood vessels, big problems Radboudumc receives grant for international collaboration

3 November 2021 The Radboudumc, together with the University of Cambridge, receives a grant of €1.8M from three collaborating cardiac foundations for international research into the small blood vessels in the brain. This study will be led by Neurologist Frank-Erik de Leeuw and internist Niels Riksen. read more

Surprisingly dominant cause underlying type I congenital defect of glycosylation

21 October 2021 Alex Garanto, Melissa Bärenfänger, Mirian Janssen, and Dirk Lefeber published a new study, identifying a surprisingly dominant genetic cause underlying type I congenital defect of glycosylation with neuromusculoskeletal phenotypes. read more