Are there ethnic differences in impulsive/compulsive behaviors in Parkinson’s disease?

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Background and purpose:

Recent studies have suggested increased prevalence of impulsive/compulsive behaviors (ICB) in patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) as compared to general population in different ethnic groups. The spectrum of these behaviors includes dopamine dysregulation syndrome (DDS), punding, pathological gambling (PG), hypersexuality (HS), binge eating (BE), and compulsive shopping (CS).


Two hundred and seventy-eight consecutive patients with idiopathic PD regularly followed-up at an outpatient clinic were interviewed and screened for the ICB between September 2008 and December 2008 using designated diagnostic criteria. All patients who screened positive for ICB or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) were further confirmed by an experienced psychiatrist.


Of all the studied patients, 15 patients confirmed to have ICB (lifetime prevalence: 5.60%), 3 (1.12%) were diagnosed to have DDS, 1 (0.37%) punding, 4 (1.49%) PG, 8 (2.99%) HS, 1 (0.37%) BE, 0 (0%) CS. OCD was found in one patient (0.37%).


The prevalence of ICB is lower in Taiwan as compared with the Caucasians, with similar risk factors. The possible reasons include differences in ethnicity, environmental, cultural, and social factors as well as the dosage and selection of dopaminergic medications.

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