Professor Lynn Chenoweth and
Associate Professor Robyn Gallagher
Improving self-management of Parkinson's disease will be the focus of a study by staff of the Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Health at UTS.
Previous funded research conducted by Faculty members identified the critical nature of self-efficacy, or a person’s belief in their ability to perform or achieve certain goals, in self-management of chronic illness.
The new study will build upon this finding and aim to increase self-efficacy in order to improve self-management in people with Parkinson's disease living in the community.
Professor Lynn Chenoweth, Associate Professor Robyn Gallagher and Dr June Sheriff of the Health and Ageing Research Unit, South Eastern Sydney and Illawarra Area Health Service have been awarded a $20,000 research grant by Parkinson’s NSW for their one-year pilot study.
"We will provide an education and support program to family carers of people with Parkinson’s disease," says Lynn. "The program will be delivered in a group setting, so that the carers can learn and receive support from other carers."
Family carers of people with Parkinson’s who attend any of the clinics (e.g. Walk Well or speech programs) at the War Memorial Hospital in Sydney and from the Bondi and Randwick Parkinson’s Disease Support Groups may volunteer to participate in the study.
The carers will learn strategies to help their family member improve their self-efficacy, with a focus on encouraging and supporting achievements.
"If the person with Parkinson’s experiences success in their self-management it really improves their self-efficacy, and failure will obviously have a negative impact on their self-efficacy. So we’ll be teaching carers how to encourage and support accomplishments," says Lynn.
"It’s also important for people with Parkinson’s disease to be able to witness others perform self-management successfully, so we’ll be encouraging carers to enable such experiences."
Carers will also learn strategies to encourage self-appraisal. "One of the things we will teach carers is how to encourage their family member with Parkinson’s to monitor symptoms and take appropriate action, for example for pain, stiffness fatigue and anxiety," Lynn explains.
After eight weekly one-hour sessions and regular follow-up support, the outcomes and effectiveness of the strategies and the impact of implementing the strategies on the carers will be evaluated.
If the pilot findings are positive for both the person with Parkinson’s and the family carer, an application will be made to the Australian Research Council to fund a larger study.
For more information about this study, please contact Lynn Chenoweth on +61 2 9369 0288 or email Lynnette.Chenoweth@uts.edu.au