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Parkinson’s results in a progressive motor disease with symptoms including tremor, rigidity and bradykinesia. However, people with Parkinson’s also experience non-motor symptoms such as cognitive difficulties that can impact social communication, often due to their co-existing speech difficulties, auditory and visual processing difficulties, and problems in understanding other people’s perspectives (theory of mind). This study describes the development of a self-report questionnaire for people with Parkinson’s to identify their social communication skills, with the aim of validating the tool for use in clinical practice. A total of 28 question items were developed based on a literature review. Fifty-one participants with Parkinson’s completed the questionnaire, answering each question by selecting their agreement on a 5-point Likert scale (1=strongly agree, 5=strongly disagree). Data were analysed using a four-factor exploratory analysis. Results demonstrated that 49% of respondents agreed/strongly agreed that emotional expression was difficult, 57% felt that their sarcasm and humour had changed and 59% felt they used fewer facial expressions. This study will form the basis of future work to develop a clinical instrument. This, in turn, will facilitate access to interventions and support for people with Parkinson’s and their care partners, in recognising these complex symptoms that we know have a significant impact on relationships and quality of life.

The Impact of Parkinson’s Disease on Social Communication: An Exploratory Questionnaire Study.
Sharma S, Fleck K, Winslow S, Rothermich K.
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Anna Volkmer

UCL, London, UK.

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