MJFF Grant Supports Study of Care Given Minorities Across Hawaii

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by Mary Chapman |

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The Parkinson’s and Movement Disorder Center at the Queen’s Medical Center will use a $387,000 Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) grant to study disparities in Parkinson’s disease care among Asian Americans, native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, and to identify better approaches.

The project is titled “Disparities in Care of Parkinson’s Disease Patients Among Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders: A Retrospective Analysis of Hospitalization and Pilot Study for a Prospective Longitudinal Cohort.”

It will be led by Michiko Bruno, MD, a neurologist at the Parkinson’s center and its medical director, and Fay Gao, a neurologist in Honolulu, Hawaii, where the center is based.

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Their study seeks to understand the extent to which these populations face differences in care and ways to ensure high-quality care access. According to a 2021 MJFF position paper, current understanding of Parkinson’s does not reflect patients from diverse ethnic or socioeconomic backgrounds.

“Because no Parkinson’s disease data exists for native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders, and minimal data exist for Asian Americans, we need to urgently understand their disease course, current care, and quality of life, as well as health-related behavior and support system,” Bruno said in a press release.

“This research project will work to break down barriers of care for these specific populations and provide best recommendations on how they can receive appropriate care at the highest level,” Bruno added.

The project has two parts. First, it will determine the frequency of hospitalizations among Asian American, native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander populations across Hawaii compared to those of Caucasians, with a goal of analyzing Parkinson’s hospital admissions from 2010 to 2020. The second part involves forming a patient group of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders who will be examined over time in an effort to gain needed data about behaviors, attitudes, and clinical outcomes.

Parkinson’s disease is thought to affect between 1% and 2% of people over age 65. In Hawaii, some 8,000 are said to be living with the progressive neurodegenerative disorder and that figure is expected to double by 2030, the release reported.

The Parkinson’s and Movement Disorder Center at Queen’s Neuroscience Institute is a multidisciplinary program for the diagnosis and treatment of movement disorders, including Parkinson’s. The center uses a team-based approach that includes movement specialists such as neurologists and neurosurgeons.

With more than $1 billion in investments to date, the Michael J. Fox Foundation is the largest nonprofit financial supporter of Parkinson’s disease research. The foundation was established in 2000.