What is the lived experience of anxiety for people with Parkinson’s? A phenomenological study
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Aim: To explore the lived experience of anxiety for people with Parkinson’s. Background: Anxiety is a non-motor symptom of Parkinson’s. While there is ample evidence demonstrating the incidence and prevalence of anxiety in people with Parkinson’s, there is little specific research documenting how individuals with this condition experience anxiety. Current evidence of behavioural treatments is limited to small, specific populations or non-condition specific interventions. It is important to explore the experiences of people with Parkinson’s to identify potential issues for consideration in developing future interventions. Methods: This study used a qualitative research approach underpinned by a social constructivist epistemology. A phenomenological research design was selected to explore the participants’ lived experience of anxiety in their ‘lifeworld’ using face-to-face interviews. Six participants were recruited through the charity Parkinson’s UK using a maximum variation sampling strategy. Data was analysed using heuristic inquiry and thematic analysis. Findings: Three key themes emerged: coping, amplification and perceptions. ‘Coping’ indicates high value on self-reliance and mixed views towards shared experiences. ‘Amplification’ concerned the effect of anxiety on physical and non-physical symptoms, and the challenging of self-identity. ‘Perceptions’ explains how participants viewed anxiety as both a negative and a positive experience. Researchers and healthcare professionals should take these findings into account when designing future studies and interventions. Conclusions: Anxiety is a complex experience constructed of interlinked parts. It affects people with Parkinson’s in a myriad of ways. Healthcare professionals and researchers should consider the broader issues of the lived experience of anxiety, such as its challenge to self-identity. Further research is required to illuminate the lived anxiety experiences of the discrete populations not included in this study.
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