Perspectives on the Earlier Use of Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson Disease from a Qualitative Study of U.S. Clinicians

Laura Y. Cabrera, Harini Sarva, Christos Sidiropoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: In November 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of deep brain stimulation (DBS) therapy in people with Parkinson's disease (PD) “of at least four years duration and with a recent onset of motor complications, or motor complications of longer-standing duration that are not adequately controlled with medication.” Although the full implications of this more recent approval are yet to be determined, to date, there are no strict criteria defining appropriate earlier use of DBS. As such, confusion remains regarding the actual meaning of early DBS initiation. To better inform responsive policy, we sought the perspectives of movement disorder neurologists and neurosurgeons regarding the earlier use of DBS. Insights from these clinicians are key to developing appropriate clinical guidelines and determining how early is too early. The objective of this study is to explore attitudes among clinicians toward the earlier use of DBS for PD. Methods: Twelve Michigan-based clinicians were interviewed both about DBS referral/use processes and their perspectives regarding the earlier use of DBS in PD. We used a structured interview with closed- and open-ended questions. All interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using a mixed-method approach. Results: We found that most clinicians considered earlier use not solely to be time dependent but instead determined by patient symptoms. Only 16.8% were aware of the FDA's recent indication of early use of DBS, with 25% of our respondents being unsure as to whether it should be seen as an early treatment modality. On average, neurologists suggested DBS as the next treatment option, after medications have been exhausted, typically 6 years after diagnosis. Conclusions: There remain wide variations in terms of clinicians' parameters for referrals and timing of DBS. Larger studies are needed to support or refute our findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e16-e20
JournalWorld neurosurgery
StatePublished - Aug 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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