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Mov Disord. 2002 Sep;17(5):1052-7.

Abulia: a delphi survey of British neurologists and psychiatrists.

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Raymond Way Neuropsychiatry Research Group, Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, London, United Kingdom.


Abulia is the relatively uncommon yet debilitating lack of spontaneous, goal-directed behaviour that is seen predominantly with lesions of the basal ganglia and the frontal lobes. We sought to confirm the existence of abulia as an entity recognized by clinicians, to generate a set of items characteristic of the condition, and to see how clinicians differentiate between overlapping disorders. The Delphi technique was used to survey consultant neurologists and psychiatrists at three hospitals in London. The study consisted of two phases: semi- structured interviews of a small group of neurologists and psychiatrists, followed by a survey of a larger group of consultants using postal questionnaires. Both neurologists and psychiatrists recognized abulia to be a distinct clinical entity but its status as a syndrome was unclear. Features such as difficulty in initiating and sustaining spontaneous movements and reduction in emotional responsiveness, spontaneous speech, and social interaction were identified as being characteristic of abulia. The information generated by this study may help to develop a working classification for disorders of diminished drive and motivation, and instruments for clinical assessment and decision making.

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