The primary goal of subthalamic nucleus (STN) deep brain stimulation (DBS) for Parkinson’s disease (PD) is to improve motor function. Dispositional optimism has been associated with better physical outcomes following a rehabilitation program in PD but has not been investigated in relation to STN-DBS. This study investigated the influence of dispositional optimism on motor outcomes following STN-DBS in individuals with PD.
A retrospective data analysis of 33 individuals with PD who underwent STN-DBS was conducted. Linear regression was used to determine whether dispositional optimism, measured by the Life Orientation Test-Revised questionnaire, predicted change in motor symptoms following DBS surgery, as assessed by the Movement Disorder Society-sponsored revision of the Unified PD Rating Scale, Part III. Self-reported levels of depressive and anxiety symptoms were included as co-variates.
Higher pre-operative dispositional optimism combined with less self-reported depressive symptoms predicted greater post-operative improvement in motor symptoms from the baseline OFF-medication to post-operative ON-medication/ON-stimulation state, accounting for 38.8% of the variance in post-operative change.
The large percentage of variance in post-STN-DBS motor change predicted by pre-operative dispositional optimism and depressive symptoms suggests that assessment of these variables prior to surgery may provide valuable information for clinicians regarding the surgery’s ultimate initial motor benefit for individuals with PD. If modifiable, these variables may provide cost-effective targets to improve motor outcomes of STN-DBS in PD.

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