A meta-analysis identifies factors predicting the future development of freezing of gait in Parkinson’s disease

Talia Herman, Yael Barer, Michal Bitan, Shani Sobol, Nir Giladi, Jeffrey M. Hausdorff*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Freezing of gait (FOG) is a debilitating problem that is common among many, but not all, people with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Numerous attempts have been made at treating FOG to reduce its negative impact on fall risk, functional independence, and health-related quality of life. However, optimal treatment remains elusive. Observational studies have recently investigated factors that differ among patients with PD who later develop FOG, compared to those who do not. With prediction and prevention in mind, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of publications through 31.12.2022 to identify risk factors. Studies were included if they used a cohort design, included patients with PD without FOG at baseline, data on possible FOG predictors were measured at baseline, and incident FOG was assessed at follow-up. 1068 original papers were identified, 38 met a-priori criteria, and 35 studies were included in the meta-analysis (n = 8973; mean follow-up: 4.1 ± 2.7 years). Factors significantly associated with a risk of incident FOG included: higher age at onset of PD, greater severity of motor symptoms, depression, anxiety, poorer cognitive status, and use of levodopa and COMT inhibitors. Most results were robust in four subgroup analyses. These findings indicate that changes associated with FOG incidence can be detected in a subset of patients with PD, sometimes as long as 12 years before FOG manifests, supporting the possibility of predicting FOG incidence. Intriguingly, some of these factors may be modifiable, suggesting that steps can be taken to lower the risk and possibly even prevent the future development of FOG.

Original languageEnglish
Article number158
Journalnpj Parkinson's Disease
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


FundersFunder number
Aufzien Academic Center in Tel-Aviv University
Sieratzki Family Foundation
National Institutes of Health
Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
National Parkinson Foundation
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme
European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations
European Commission
Israel Science Foundation
Ministry of Health, State of Israel
Innovative Medicines Initiative820820


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