New research has today uncovered a woeful lack of knowledge about Parkinson’s – a serious, incurable and debilitating condition that affects over 127,000 people across the UK. Data commissioned by Parkinson’s UK*, to time with the launch of a new drive to highlight the impact of the condition, paints a concerning picture of public misinformation and misunderstanding – with three quarters of Britons (77%) having little or no knowledge of the condition.
Worryingly, the research also uncovered some troubling attitudes towards those living with the condition. More than 1 in 10 people (16%) reported that they would feel annoyed, embarrassed or uncomfortable, if they encountered someone with a tremor – one of the more visible symptoms of Parkinson’s.
Interestingly, other than recognising a tremor or shaking as a sign of Parkinson’s (73%) few Britons would know what other tell-tale signs of the condition – such as freezing to the spot, or a fixed facial expression – to look out for.
Steve Ford, Chief Executive of Parkinson’s UK, explains:
“These findings underline what we’ve been hearing from people with Parkinson’s across the UK – that the general public simply don’t understand the condition. Disturbingly, because Parkinson’s is so poorly understood, those with the condition tell us all too often that they are on the receiving end of these embarrassed and uncomfortable looks.
“This woeful lack of knowledge means people with Parkinson’s have been arrested simply for not smiling at a sporting event, or refused service by taxi firms because people have mistaken speech problems – a common symptom of the condition – for drunkenness.”
Confusion surrounding how painful Parkinson’s can be was also rife, with over half of people (53%) unsure if the condition caused any pain at all.
To combat these misconceptions, Parkinson’s UK is launching a new awareness drive across the country. Reworked images of 6 everyday tasks that can be incredibly difficult for those affected by Parkinson’s, including making a cup of tea and putting a pair of shoes will be appearing in advertisements around the UK.