Keeping working to keep working : staying in the workforce with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease

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Brittenden, Elissa
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Master of Osteopathy
Unitec Institute of Technology
Niven, Elizabeth
Roy, Dianne
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
New Zealand
Parkinson's disease
lived experiences
interpretive description
Brittenden, E. (2016). Keeping working to keep working: Staying in the workforce with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. An unpublished thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Osteopathy, Unitec Institute of Technology, New Zealand.
Background: Parkinson’s disease has a profound effect on those with the condition. Due to earlier diagnosis from improved diagnostic techniques as well as advances in medication, people are often able to continue to work for many years after diagnosis. This study sought to discuss the experience of a small group of people in New Zealand with Parkinson’s disease who continue to work after diagnosis. Aim: To explore the experience of staying in the workforce after a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. Design: A qualitative study using interpretive description. Methods: Five participants were recruited through purposive sampling via word of mouth and an advertisement placed in the Parkinson’s New Zealand newsletter. Data were collected by semi-structured interviews and analysed thematically. Findings: Three themes were identified: ‘participating in work’, ‘trying to reinvent’ and ‘bridging past and future’. Each interwove into an overarching theme of ‘working to work’ in that participants still wished to participate in work but in order to do this had to make adaptations and use strategies to ensure work could continue. They faced an uncertain future and spoke of their past while looking forward with hesitation. Conclusion: The data revealed that working remained an important part of participants’ lives after a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. In order to keep working they made adaptations to their lives so this could continue in a way they wanted.
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