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Parkinson’s disease is predominantly considered a motor disorder, impacting speech, particularly voice volume, amongst other physical functions. Language and cognitive difficulties, such as difficulties in word finding and social pragmatics are also a key feature of Parkinson’s disease. Given the inevitable impact on conversation, it is unsurprising that people with Parkinson’s disease are at risk of anxiety and increased social withdrawal. There is a large body of research that demonstrates the benefits of training communication partners of people with stroke aphasia, dementia and other progressive neurological conditions, but comparatively little on training partners of people with Parkinson’s disease. This scoping review therefore aimed to identify what conversation-level treatments have been used with people with Parkinson’s disease that have involved their partner and what methods have been used to assess conversations in this group? The researchers developed a protocol and used pre-identified search terms to search electronic databases including ProQuest, Medline, CINAHL and SCOPUS. Of the 59 articles identified through database searching, eight were included in the review. Seven of these studies focused on assessment, of which six used conversation analysis to assess the conversation between the person with Parkinson’s disease and their partner. Only one study was identified that focused on intervention. The authors conclude that there is a need for future studies examining the wider impact of conversation in Parkinson’s disease and how training partners can support the person and those around them. Given the ecological value of investing in people around the person, this model of care is a valuable investment and in line with the NHS long-term plan, wherein self-management and communication is at the heart.

Assessing and treating conversations with partners in Parkinson’s disease: A scoping review of the evidence.
Thilakratne R, Loftus A M, Cocks N.
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Anna Volkmer

UCL, London, UK.

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