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The psychological impact of Parkinson’s disease patients’ delusions on spouses: A Thematic Analysis

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posted on 2019-09-04, 14:01 authored by Caroline J. Nolan
Thesis abstract: Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients suffer from a progressive neurological illness that can affect their mobility and gait. They suffer from tremors and stiffness and can have non-motor symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions. An examination of mindfulness in Part One: Literature review highlights the effects of the PD illness on people and their spouses. It became apparent that there is a lot of stress in PD families and the researcher’s focus of study shifted to one aspect of that psychological stress that affects spousal caregivers due to PD delusions. There was insufficient published research papers to merit a separate literature review. Part Two: Empirical Research, looks in particular at the phenomena of delusions which affect a small percentage of the patients as the illness progresses or if the dosage of dopamine agonist medications to treat their PD symptoms is too strong. The empirical research seeks to examine the experiences of spouses living with partners who have had PD related delusions and to determine how it affects them psychologically. Literature review: A search of four electronic data bases resulted in six studies being selected that met the research inclusion and exclusion criteria. While the six studies looked at mindfulness interventions for people with Parkinson’s disease, it became apparent that there is a dearth of studies in this area and in wider psycho-social topics that pertain to psychological and emotional stress on PWP and their spouses. Research Report: Twelve spouses whose partners had PD delusions were interviewed to capture their experiences and to determine how they were impacted psychologically. Four themes emerged with sub-themes from the thematic analysis of the semi-structured interview transcripts. The results point to significant psychological impact on the caregiver spouses and how it often goes undetected by clinicians because it is under reported by caregiver spouses due to shame and embarrassment. The findings suggest that these issues should be addressed in the clinics for the PD patients for better treatment and care of the patients and their spouses who are their informal caregivers. Critical Appraisal: The various steps of the research from beginning to end are noted and reflected upon to garner insights into what was helpful for future research.



Robertson, Noelle

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Department of Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour

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University of Leicester

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