Purpose: The purpose of this article is to investigate how social support influences physical activity participation, as perceived by men and women in the early stages of Parkinson's disease (PD). It will also address how this perceived support interacts with perceptions of control to influence this participation.
Method: Three women and four men with early PD completed a background questionnaire and participated in individual semi-structured interviews. The World Health Organisation's International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) model was used as a framework to develop questions related to the environmental factors examined. Phenomenology was employed in the analysis of interview transcripts.
Results: Three main types of support (instrumental, emotional, informational) were provided to participants, and each of these had a positive influence on physical activity participation. In addition to this support, participants reported personally participating in exercise as a means to help control the progression of PD.
Conclusions: This is believed to be the first study looking at factors influencing physical activity participation in PD. Issues related to support for exercise from physicians and organisational issues of support groups for PD are discussed. Directions for future research are provided, which should aid in the identification of strategies to increase physical activity levels in those with PD.