I’m Losing the ‘Me’: Partners’ Experiences of Engagement with Parkinson's Health Professionals
Cambridge University Press
School of Psychology
Background: Partners of people with Parkinson's disease (PD) have first-hand knowledge relevant to the management of the person with Parkinson's (PwP). If captured, this knowledge may improve effective care for the PwP. However, there is a lack of research focusing primarily on partners’ experiences of engagement with health professionals working in PD (HPPs). Methods: Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was used to investigate the meaning of partners’ experiences of engagement with HPPs. Semi-structured interviews with 15 partners of PwP provided primary data. Each interview was digitally recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed for emerging themes. Results: Three themes emerged: (i) partners’ lack of entitlement for their own needs to be met; (ii) submersion of self in the partnership and (iii) health professionals as agents of support. Additionally, sub-themes were identified, such as barriers to feeling entitled, setting up a premise for entitlement, and lost identity. Together, these themes highlight the current lack of focus on the partners of PwP. A process model was developed to describe partners’ cyclic progression through the various stages of their experience, and in the process, identifying initiatives for intervention. Conclusion: Given a lack of focus on the needs of partners of PwP, these preliminary insights could inform the delivery of improved services that support partners. This will ultimately benefit the PwP.