Original research| Volume 98, ISSUE 9, P1744-1751, September 2017

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Dancing for Parkinson Disease: A Randomized Trial of Irish Set Dancing Compared With Usual Care

Published:March 21, 2017DOI:


      • This was a pilot randomized controlled trial comparing Irish set dancing with usual care in people with Parkinson disease.
      • Primary outcome was feasibility of study design for implementation in future trials.
      • Results showed Irish set dancing is enjoyable and can improve quality of life.
      • Feasibility issues to be considered in future trials were identified.
      • Results will be used to inform larger international trials.



      To examine the feasibility of a randomized controlled study design and to explore the benefits of a set dancing intervention compared with usual care.


      Randomized controlled design, with participants randomized to Irish set dance classes or a usual care group.


      Community based.


      Individuals with idiopathic Parkinson disease (PD) (N=90).


      The dance group attended a 1.5-hour dancing class each week for 10 weeks and undertook a home dance program for 20 minutes, 3 times per week. The usual care group continued with their usual care and daily activities.

      Main Outcome Measures

      The primary outcome was feasibility, determined by recruitment rates, success of randomization and allocation procedures, attrition, adherence, safety, willingness of participants to be randomized, resource availability, and cost. Secondary outcomes were motor function (motor section of the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale), quality of life (Parkinson's Disease Questionnaire-39), functional endurance (6-min walk test), and balance (mini-BESTest).


      Ninety participants were randomized (45 per group). There were no adverse effects or resource constraints. Although adherence to the dancing program was 93.5%, there was >40% attrition in each group. Postintervention, the dance group had greater nonsignificant gains in quality of life than the usual care group. There was a meaningful deterioration in endurance in the usual care group. There were no meaningful changes in other outcomes. The exit questionnaire showed participants enjoyed the classes and would like to continue participation.


      For people with mild to moderately severe PD, set dancing is feasible and enjoyable and may improve quality of life.


      List of abbreviations:

      PD (Parkinson disease), PDQ-39 (Parkinson's Disease Questionnaire-39), QOL (quality of life), RCT (randomized controlled trial)
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