BackgroundDrug-induced parkinsonism (DIP) has a high prevalence and is associated with poorer quality of life. To find a practical clinical tool to assess DIP in patients with severe mental illness (SMI), the association between blink rate and drug-induced parkinsonism (DIP) was assessed.MethodsIn a cohort of 204 SMI patients receiving care from the only mental health service of the previous Dutch Antilles, blink rate per minute during conversation was assessed by an additional trained movement disorder specialist. DIP was rated on the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) in 878 assessments over a period of 18 years. Diagnostic values of blink rate were calculated.ResultsDIP prevalence was 36%, average blink rate was 14 (standard deviation (SD) 11) for patients with DIP, and 19 (SD 14) for patients without. There was a significant association between blink rate and DIP (p < 0.001). With a blink rate cut-off of 20 blinks per minute, sensitivity was 77% and specificity was 38%. A 10% percentile cut-off model resulted in an area under the ROC curve of 0.61. A logistic prediction model between dichotomous DIP and continuous blink rate per minute an area under the ROC curve of 0.70.ConclusionsThere is a significant association between blink rate and DIP as diagnosed on the UPDRS. However, blink rate sensitivity and specificity with regard to DIP are too low to replace clinical rating scales in routine psychiatric practice.Trial registrationThe study was started over 20 years ago in 1992, at the time registering a trial was not common practice, therefore the study was never registered.