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Restless legs syndrome in a population of northern Tanzania: A community-based study


  • Potential conflict of interest: Nothing to report.


Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a highly prevalent movement disorder. However, prevalences seem to vary amongst different ethnicities. To date, no community-based prevalence studies on RLS have been reported from the African continent. We have conducted a community-based, door-to-door study in northern Tanzania. Over a period of 16 months, 7,654 people aged 14 years and older were screened for the RLS Essential Diagnostic Criteria. Sampling was performed according to the method of “multistage cluster sampling.” People who screened positive where reinterviewed and physically examined by a specialist neurologist. During the screening phase, 10 people answered “yes” to at least one of the screening questions. After reinterviewing those people, the result was confirmed in five people only. After careful re-evaluation of the results, only one person was diagnosed with RLS. Because of methodological limitations a definite prevalence may only be calculated from larger population-based studies of different African ethnicities with screening questions adapted to the cultural context. © 2010 Movement Disorder Society