“Running Water Won't Freeze”: How people with advanced Parkinson's disease experience occupation

Carolyn Murdock, Wendy Cousins, George Kernohan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegenerative condition often resulting in significant disability and impacting on one's ability to participate in an occupation. The present study aimed to explore how people with advanced Parkinson's disease experience the phenomenon of occupation in their daily lives in order to inform the practice of occupational therapy in palliative care.Method: Using a phenomenological approach, in-depth interviews were undertaken with a purposive sample of 10 people in the advanced stages of Parkinson's disease. These interviews were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim, and subsequently analyzed using a thematic content analysis approach. The study received approval from the relevant university ethics committee, as well as the research network of Parkinson's UK.Results: The experience of occupation emerged as being physical, psychological, social, and spiritual with related subthemes. Within each of these themes, participants described their experience of occupation that they valued and that were important to their daily lives. They also identified the strategies they employed to continue participating in certain occupations and described others they were no longer able to engage in and the impact of that loss.Significance of Results: Participants' experiences crossed the domains of palliative care and suggest that adopting a palliative care approach would enhance an enhanced quality of life, experienced in terms of meaningful and valuable occupation. Disruption to participation in occupation caused them distress and frustration, suggesting that access to occupation-focused therapy would significantly improve quality of life for people with PD. As there is a strong link between the ethos of occupational therapy and palliative care, it is proposed that there is a valuable role for occupational therapy intervention to play within palliative care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1363-1372
JournalPalliative and Supportive Care
Issue number5
Early online date29 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Oct 2015


  • Parkinson's disease
  • Palliative care
  • Occupation
  • Phenomenology


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