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Dysautonomia rating scales in Parkinson's disease: Sialorrhea, dysphagia, and constipation—Critique and recommendations by movement disorders task force on rating scales for Parkinson's disease


  • Potential conflict of interest: MLE has received honoraium for consultant services and/or speaking engagements from UCB Pharma, Solstice, Allergan. She serves on a clinical trial steering committee for Solstice and has received research support from Merz, Ipsen, Boeringer-Ingelhiem, Santhera and Schwarz (UCB). KRC has received honorarium for sponsored symposiums in international and national meetings from Boehringer-Ingelheim, UCB Pharma, Solvay, Britannia and GSK Pharmaceuticals. He also serves in the advisory board for the above companies in addition to Lundbeck. KLC has received honoraria or research support in the past 3 years from Teva, GSK, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Novartis, and Solstice Neurosciences.


Upper and lower gastrointestinal dysautonomia symptoms (GIDS)—sialorrhea, dysphagia, and constipation are common in Parkinson's disease (PD) and often socially as well as physically disabling for patients. Available invasive quantitative measures for assessing these symptoms and their response to therapy are time-consuming, require specialized equipment, can cause patient discomfort and present patients with risk. The Movement Disorders Society commissioned a task force to assess available clinical rating scales, critique their clinimetric properties, and make recommendations regarding their clinical utility. Six clinical researchers and a biostatistician systematically searched the literature for scales of sialorrhea, dysphagia, and constipation, evaluated the scales' previous use, performance parameters, and quality of validation data (if available). A scale was designated “Recommended” if the scale was used in clinical studies beyond the group that developed it, has been specifically used in PD reports, and clinimetric studies have established that it is a valid, reliable, and sensitive. “Suggested” scales met at least part of the above criteria, but fell short of meeting all. Based on the systematic review, scales for individual symptoms of sialorrhea, dysphagia, and constipation were identified along with three global scales that include these symptoms in the context of assessing dysautonomia or nonmotor symptoms. Three sialorrhea scales met criteria for Suggested: Drooling Severity and Frequency Scale (DSFS), Drooling Rating Scale, and Sialorrhea Clinical Scale for PD (SCS-PD). Two dysphagia scales, the Swallowing Disturbance Questionnaire (SDQ) and Dysphagia-Specific Quality of Life (SWAL-QOL), met criteria for Suggested. Although Rome III constipation module is widely accepted in the gastroenterology community, and the earlier version from the Rome II criteria has been used in a single study of PD patients, neither met criteria for Suggested or Recommended. Among the global scales, the Scales for Outcomes in PD-Autonomic (SCOPA-AUT) and Nonmotor Symptoms Questionnaire for PD (NMSQuest) both met criteria for Recommended, and the Nonmotor Symptoms Scale (NMSS) met criteria for Suggested; however, none specifically focuses on the target gastrointestinal symptoms (sialorrhea, dysphagia, and constipation) of this report. A very small number of rating scales have been applied to studies of gastrointestinal-related dysautonomia in PD. Only two scales met “Recommended” criteria and neither focuses specifically on the symptoms of sialorrhea, dysphagia, and constipation. Further scale testing in PD among the scales that focus on these symptoms is warranted, and no new scales are needed until the available scales are fully tested clinimetrically. © 2009 Movement Disorder Society