Gender gap in deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s disease

EUROPAR and the International Parkinson and Movement Disorders Society Non-Motor Parkinson's Disease Study Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Previous studies have shown less access to deep brain stimulation (DBS) for Parkinson’s disease (PD) in women compared to men raising concerns about a potential gender gap resulting from nonclinical factors or gender differences in clinical efficacy for postoperative quality of life (QoL), motor, and nonmotor symptoms (NMS) outcomes. This was a cross-sectional and a longitudinal, prospective, observational, controlled, quasi-experimental, international multicenter study. A total sample size of 505 consisted of 316 consecutively referred patients for DBS indication evaluation at the University Hospital Cologne (01/2015–09/2020) and 189 consecutively treated patients at DBS centers in the University Hospitals Cologne and Marburg, Salford’s Royal Hospital Manchester, and King’s College Hospital London. In the cross-sectional cohort, we examined gender proportions at referral, indication evaluations, and DBS surgery. In the longitudinal cohort, clinical assessments at preoperative baseline and 6-month follow-up after surgery included the PD Questionnaire-8, NMSScale, Scales for Outcomes in PD-motor scale, and levodopa-equivalent daily dose. Propensity score matching resulted in a pseudo-randomized sub-cohort balancing baseline demographic and clinical characteristics between women with PD and male controls. 316 patients were referred for DBS. 219 indication evaluations were positive (women n = 102, respectively n = 82). Women with PD were disproportionally underrepresented in referrals compared to the general PD population (relative risk [RR], 0.72; 95%CI, 0.56–0.91; P = 0.002), but more likely to be approved for DBS than men (RR, 1.17; 95%CI, 1.03–1.34; P = 0.029). Nonetheless, their total relative risk of undergoing DBS treatment was 0.74 (95%CI, 0.48–1.12) compared to men with PD. At baseline, women had longer disease duration and worse dyskinesia. Exploring QoL domains, women reported worse mobility and bodily discomfort. At follow-up, all main outcomes improved equally in both genders. Our study provides evidence of a gender gap in DBS for PD. Women and men with PD have distinct preoperative nonmotor and motor profiles. We advocate that more focus should be directed toward the implementation of gender equity as both genders benefit from DBS with equal clinical efficacy. This study provides Class II evidence of beneficial effects of DBS in women with PD compared to male controls.

Original languageEnglish
Article number47
Journalnpj Parkinson's Disease
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2022


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