Examining the impact of two specialist Parkinson’s disease nurse positions in regional NSW: A qualitative descriptive study

Research output: Other contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Background and Aim:
Parkinson’s disease is a complex, and disabling neurodegenerative condition with no known cure. People diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease require specialist treatment and management. Presenting symptoms for this movement and mood disorder include slowness of movement, muscle rigidity, tremor, instability, depression and anxiety. An estimated 80,000 Australians are living with this disease. Often believed to be a condition only affecting people over 65 years of age, in reality of all individuals diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, 10% are under the age of 40 and a further 20% are under the age of 50. Parkinson’s disease is reportedly more prevalent in rural and remote areas than in metropolitan areas. To date, access to specialist motor disorder neurology services and specialist Parkinson’s disease nursing services remains extremely limited in rural and remote areas. An integrative literature review (2018) supported the development of specialist nursing models of practice focused on improving quality of life and outcomes for people with this condition. This presentation reports on a project designed to investigate the impact of two specialist Parkinson’s disease nurses in regional NSW.

A two-site case study design was utilised to compare the two models. The nurse and three groups of participants at each site participated in semi-structured interviews (consumers, carers and health professionals) giving their perspectives on the impact of the specialist nursing service. Yin’s (2010) five phases guided the qualitative analysis.

The Coffs Harbour region position is embedded within the local health district while the Shoalhaven PD nurse position is based in the primary health network. Findings revealed nursing practice strongly reflecting a person-centred approach to practice with each nurse demonstrating an in-depth awareness of the needs of both consumers and carers. At both sites, Parkinson’s disease specific education and the psychosocial support provided was described by consumers and carers as invaluable. In contrast, analysis identified marked differences in the range, depth of impact and effectiveness of the services between the two models.

Implications or take-home message:
This study strongly supports the value of a nurse-led model of care. However, the findings highlight the complexity of Parkinson’s disease management and the need for specialist Parkinson’s disease nurses with advanced practice nursing competencies with the role embedded within and delivered across the Local Health District health care settings and services, rather than being limited to the primary health care setting.


Conference6th Western NSW Health Research Network Symposium
Abbreviated titleGrowing health research from the ground up
Internet address

Grant Number

  • 102451


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