Public knowledge and attitude toward essential tremor: A questionnaire survey

Sherif Shalaby, Jeffrey Indes, Benison Keung, Christopher H. Gottschalk, Duarte Machado, Amar Patel, Daphne Robakis, Elan D. Louis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Public awareness of and attitude toward disease is an important issue for patients. Public awareness of essential tremor (ET) has never been studied. Methods: We administered a 10-min, 31-item questionnaire to 250 consecutive enrollees. These included three samples carefully chosen to have a potential range of awareness of ET: 100 individuals ascertained from a vascular disease clinic, 100 individuals from a general neurology clinic, and 50 Parkinson's disease (PD) patients. Results: Leaving aside PD patients, only 10-15% of enrollees had ever heard of or read about "ET." Even among PD patients, only 32.7% had ever heard of or read about ET. After providing enrollees with three synonymous terms for ET ("benign tremor," "kinetic tremor," "familial tremor"), ~40% of non-PD enrollees and 51.0% with PD had ever heard or read about the condition. Even among participants who had heard of ET, ~10% did not know what the main symptom was, 1/3 were either unsure or thought ET was the same disease as PD, 1/4 thought that ET was the same condition as frailty- or aging-associated tremor, 2/3 attributed it to odd causes (e.g., trauma or alcohol abuse), only 1/3 knew of the existence of therapeutic brain surgery, fewer than 1/2 knew that children could have ET, and 3/4 did not know of a celebrity or historical figure with ET. Hence, lack of knowledge and misconceptions were common. Conclusion: Public knowledge of the existence and features of ET is overall poor. Greater awareness is important for the ET community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number60
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
Issue numberAPR
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Attitudes
  • Clinical
  • Essential tremor
  • Knowledge
  • Survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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