Background and purpose: Creativity in Parkinson's disease (PD) is strongly related to dopaminergic activity and medication. We hypothesized that patients with PD, including those who are in the pre-diagnostic phase of PD, are prone to choose highly structured ‘conventional’ professional occupations and avoid highly creative ‘artistic’ occupations. Methods: At baseline of the population-based Rotterdam Study, we asked 12 147 individuals aged ≥45 years about their latest occupation and categorized occupations according to the RIASEC model. Participants underwent baseline and follow-up (median 11 years) examinations for PD. We determined associations of artistic (versus any other occupation) and conventional (versus any other occupation) occupations with PD. Additionally, we pooled our results with a recently published case–control study (Radboud Study). Results: At baseline, conventional occupations were common [n = 4356 (36%)], whereas artistic occupations were rare [n = 137 (1%)]. There were 217 patients with PD, including 91 with prevalent PD and 126 with incident PD. The risk of PD varied substantially across occupational categories (chi-square, 14.61; P = 0.01). The penalized odds ratio (OR) of artistic occupations for PD was 0.19 [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.00–1.31; P = 0.11], whereas the OR of conventional occupations for PD was 1.23 (95% CI, 0.95–1.66; P = 0.10). The direction and magnitude of ORs were similar in cross-sectional and longitudinal subsamples. Pooled ORs across the Rotterdam and Radboud Studies were 0.20 (95% CI, 0.08–0.52; P < 0.001) for artistic and 1.23 (95% CI, 0.92–1.67; P = 0.08) for conventional occupations. Conclusions: The risk of PD varies substantially by choice of professional occupation. Our findings suggest that dopaminergic degeneration affects choice of occupation, which may start in the pre-diagnostic phase of PD.

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European Journal of Neurology
Department of Epidemiology

Darweesh, S., Ikram, K., Faber, M., de Vries, N.M. (N. M.), Haaxma, C. A., Hofman, A. (A.), … Ikram, A. (2018). Professional occupation and the risk of Parkinson's disease. European Journal of Neurology. doi:10.1111/ene.13752