Defining the Treatment Gap: What Essential Tremor Patients Want That They Are Not Getting

  • Elan Daniel Louis
  • Brittany Rohl
  • Catherine Rice


Background: Patient-centeredness (i.e., providing care that is responsive to individual patient preferences) is increasingly recognized as a crucial element of quality of care.

Methods: A six-item patient-centeredness questionnaire was devised to assess the self-perceived needs of ET patients. A link to the questionnaire was included in the monthly e-newsletter of the International Essential Tremor Foundation. The questionnaires were completed online and data were available in electronic format.

Results: There were 1,418 respondents. One in three respondents (i.e., 31.4%) indicated that the doctor was not even “moderately well-educated” about ET. Only 11.8% of respondents were satisfied with their care. Respondents raised a multiplicity of issues that were not being addressed in their current care. The top items were: psychological services and support (33.9%), physical or occupational therapy (28.6%), handling embarrassment and social effects of tremor (15.8%), feelings of not being in control (13.7%), a detailed report and a more quantitative way of assessing tremor and tracking progression (12.7%), better counseling about current treatment and medications (11.9%), empathy, compassion and a feeling of being heard (11.6%), a treatment approach other than just medications and surgery (11.2%), a discussion of all of symptoms aside from tremor (e.g., cognition, balance).

Conclusions: Patients with ET identified a broad range of issues that they felt were not addressed in their treatment; indeed, only one-in-ten patients reporting that they were satisfied with their care. It is hoped that patient-centered approaches such as this will lead to improved models for the care of patients with this common chronic disease.