Parkinson’s disease and spirituality.


OBJECTIVE: To assess the claim that Parkinson's disease (PD) specifically reduces religiosity religious faith and spirituality. METHODS: A longitudinal case-control study over 12 months of spirituality in 42 patients with idiopathic PD and 39 disease controls matched for age, gender, educational attainment and disability. There was no selection on grounds of religious affiliation. Participants were assessed on the Beck Depression Inventory, Medical Outcomes Score (MOS), cognitive tests including Paired Associate Learning [PAL], One Touch Stocking [OTS]) and Stroop test. Tests of spirituality were the Brief Multidimensional Measure of Religiousness and Spirituality questionnaire (BMMRS), a Mystical Experiences Questionnaire (MEQ), and the Rivermead Life Goals Score, supplemented by qualitative interview methods. RESULTS: Over one year, as expected, mobility and cognition declined in the PD group. However, there was no significant change in scores of religiosity and spirituality scores in this group. Likewise, there were no subjective reports of a decrease of interest in religious faith or spirituality, although anecdotal accounts of decreasing mobility, loss of driving ability, increasing emotional lability and tiredness meant reduced participation in some religious and spiritual practices. However, over one year there was a significant fall in controls' religiosity score due mainly to a fall in 'religious practices' with no clear underlying reason. CONCLUSIONS: Compared to non-neurological patients with similar disability, Parkinson's disease is not associated with a decline in religious faith or spirituality. Declining mobility and cognition in Parkinson's disease does not lead to diminished religiosity.