Stimulation of the tibial nerve: a protocol for a multicentred randomised controlled trial for urinary problems associated with Parkinson’s disease—STARTUP

Doreen McClurg, Jalesh Panicker, Richard W. Walker, Anne Louise Cunnington, Katherine H. O. Deane, Danielle Harari, Andrew Elders, Jo Booth, Suzanne Hagen, Helen Mason, Susan Stratton

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Introduction: Parkinson’s disease is the second most common chronic neurodegenerative condition with bladder dysfunction affecting up to 71%. Symptoms affect quality of life and include urgency, frequency, hesitancy, nocturia and incontinence. Addressing urinary dysfunction is one of the top 10 priority research areas identified by the James Lind Alliance and Parkinson’s UK.  

Objectives: Conduct a randomised controlled trial (RCT) targeting people with Parkinson’s disease (PwP) who have self-reported problematic lower urinary tract symptoms, investigating the effectiveness of transcutaneous tibial nerve stimulation (TTNS) compared with sham TTNS. Implement a standardised training approach and package for the correct application of TTNS. Conduct a cost-effectiveness analysis of TTNS compared with sham TTNS.  

Methods and analysis: An RCT of 6 weeks with twice weekly TTNS or sham TTNS. Participants will be recruited in 12 National Health Service neurology/movement disorder services, using a web-based randomisation system, and will be shown how to apply TTNS or sham TTNS. Participants will receive a weekly telephone call from the researchers during the intervention period. The trial has two coprimary outcome measures: International Consultation on Incontinence Questionnaire-Urinary Incontinence Short Form and the International Prostate Symptom Score. Secondary outcomes include a 3-day bladder diary, quality of life, acceptability and fidelity and health economic evaluation. Outcomes will be measured at 0, 6 and 12 weeks.  

A sample size of 208 randomised in equal numbers to the two arms will provide 90% power to detect a clinically important difference of 2.52 points on the Internatioanl Consultation on Incontinence Questionnaire - Short Form (ICIQ-SF) and of 3 points in the International Prostate Symptom Score total score at 12 weeks at 5% significance level, based on an SD of 4.7 in each arm and 20% attrition at 6 weeks. Analysis will be by intention to treat and pre defined in a statistical analysis plan.  

Ethics and dissemination East of Scotland Research Ethics Service (EoSRES), 18/ES00042, obtained on 10 May 2018. The trial will allow us to determine effectiveness, safety, cost and acceptability of TTNS for bladder dysfunction in PWP. Results will be published in open access journals; lay reports will be posted to all participants and presented at conferences.  

Trial registration number ISRCTN12437878; Pre-results.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere034887
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2020


  • neuro-urology
  • parkinson-s disease
  • urology

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