Joy Reid, BN, RN.
Parkinson's Disease Nurse Specialist, Fife Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, Victoria Hospital, FifeParkinson's disease is a progressive neurological condition, which affects over 120 000 people in the UK. It is caused by the premature death of cells in the substantia nigra in the brain, which produce dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that facilitates voluntary movements in the body, for example, walking, talking, eating and smiling.
It can be daunting to be told that you have Parkinson's disease and patients will react in a variety of ways. Diagnosis may be received with feelings of horror, fear, isolation, guilt, anger and injustice (Baker and Smith, 1991).
The recent Global Parkinson's Disease Survey (Findley, 1999) looked at factors impacting on quality of life. The steering committee discovered that satisfaction with the explanation of the condition at diagnosis has a significant impact on quality of life.
Much of the literature highlights the importance of patient and carer education and effective communication, without actually explaining why (MacMahon et al, 1990; Livesey, 1992; MacMahon and Thomas, 1998).
As stated earlier, the literature that focuses specifically on Parkinson's disease is limited. This paper, therefore, reviewed literature covering chronic illness in general.
This literature review has highlighted the importance of effective patient education to facilitate positive outcomes. Although a body of literature is available on education in chronic illness, more specific research is needed on the benefits of education for patients with Parkinson's disease.
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