Active or Passive Coping? A Study on Coping Strategies for Patients with Parkinson Disease

With the help of pharmacists and a team of health care providers, a better quality of life is possible for patients with Parkinson disease.

Pharmacists are accessible and caring health care providers who should be aware of how they can help patients with Parkinson disease (PD). Patients with PD should have access to any and all resources that help them live as comfortably as possible. Managing their pain is a crucial part of comfort.

A research group from the Department of Neurology at Jena University Hospital in Jena, Germany performed a cross sectional cohort study in hopes of creating a multidimensional approach for pain management for PD patients. During their study, they found that PD patients’ pain is often underdiagnosed and undertreated.1

This is where pharmacists can step in and use their knowledge to improve health-related quality of life.

Study Description

The researchers conducted this cross-sectional cohort study in an inpatient setting at Jena University Hospital. They enrolled 52 patients with PD who did not also have dementia and assessed them at the beginning of their hospital stay.

Motor function, nonmotor function, health-related quality of life and the Coping Strategies Questionnaire were assessed. They used the multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) to investigate the association between coping, clinical parameters, and quality of life.

Key Findings

From the results of the assessments, researchers were able to conclude that the coping strategies of the 52 participants could be grouped into active (handle pain using internal resources to control the pain) or passive (praying/hoping) coping strategies.1

They found that patients who used active coping strategies had better physical functioning and more energy, whereas passive coping strategies had the opposite effect. The study revealed that pain was mostly associated with female sex, higher motor impairment, depression, and passive coping strategies.1

Limitations

All studies, have limitations. This study was largely centered around how participants managed their pain and how it affected their health-related quality of life, so it is important to acknowledge different variables. Quality of life can be influenced by both external (finances, social contacts, treatment, etc) and internal (personality traits) factors.

This could sway some findings, and participants may have factors other than their PD affecting their quality of life outside of pain.

Conclusion

Untreated pain can lead to depression, low self-esteem, frustration, and sleep deprivation. However, with the help of pharmacists and a team of health care providers, a better quality of life is possible for these patients.

Pharmacists can check in with their patients while they are at the pharmacy picking up their medications. It does not require any additional appointments and patients will see that pharmacists are there for them.

Becoming familiar with both pharmacologic (pain medications) and nonpharmacologic (physiotherapy, occupational therapy, behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, stress management, relaxation training) pain coping strategies will benefit everyone.

About the Author

Christina Nault is a 2025 PharmD candidate at the University of Connecticut.

Reference

1. Prell T, Liebermann JD, Mendorf S, Lehmann T, Zipprich HM. Pain coping strategies and their association with quality of life in people with Parkinson's disease: A cross-sectional study. PLoS One. 2021;16(11):e0257966. Published 2021 Nov 1. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0257966