Parkinson’s Patients Riskier Drivers than Their Self-Reports Show

Published Online: Monday, March 18, 2013
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Drivers with Parkinson’s disease are taking more risks than they report, according to a study published in the February 2013 issue of Parkinsonism & Related Disorders.

The study compared self-reported driving habits to actual driving practices in 26 Parkinson’s patients and 20 controls. For 2 weeks, electronic devices installed in participants’ vehicles monitored driving. During the same 2 weeks, participants completed the Situational Driving Frequency and Avoidance questionnaire on usual driving habits. The questionnaire included questions about frequency of driving on certain roadways and conditions at different times of day. Participants also kept a trip log and completed an interview. Researchers also analyzed memory and cognitive function with the Montreal Cognitive Assessment.

Although drivers with Parkinson’s disease reported more self-restrictions than drivers without Parkinson’s, they actually drove at night, in bad weather, during rush hour, and on highways more than they reported. Participants with and without Parkinson’s reported inaccurate estimates of driving distance.

Parkinson’s drivers scored lower on the Montreal Cognitive Assessment overall and in memory. The researchers suggest that medical professionals and researchers take self-reports of driving habits from Parkinson’s patients with some skepticism.

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