Investigation of the association of military employment and Parkinson's disease with a validated Parkinson's disease case-finding strategy

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Brain injury




Military; epidemiology; parkinson’s disease; risk; veteran


INTRODUCTION: Persons with military involvement may be more likely to have Parkinson's disease (PD) risk factors. As PD is rare, case finding remains a challenge, contributing to our limited understanding of PD risk factors. Here, we explore the validity of case-finding strategies and whether military employment is associated with PD. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We identified Adult Changes in Thought (ACT) study participants reporting military employment as their longest or second longest occupation. We used self-report and prescription fills to identify PD cases and validated this case-finding approach against medical record review. RESULTS: At enrollment, 6% of 5,125 eligible participants had military employment and 1.8% had prevalent PD; an additional 3.5% developed PD over follow-up (mean: 8.3 years). Sensitivity of our case-finding approach was higher for incident (80%) than prevalent cases (54%). Specificity was high (>97%) for both. Military employment was not associated with prevalent PD. Among nonsmokers, point estimates suggested an increased risk of incident PD with military employment, but the result was non-significant and based on a small number of cases. CONCLUSIONS: Self-report and prescription medications can accurately identify incident PD cases relative to the reference method of medical record review. We found no association between military employment and PD.