Living with advanced Parkinson's disease: a constant struggle with unpredictability

J Adv Nurs. 2011 Feb;67(2):408-17. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2010.05459.x. Epub 2010 Oct 15.


Aim: This paper is a report of an exploration of patients' lifeworld and way of managing life with advanced Parkinson's disease prior to Deep Brain Stimulation and what they expect from life following this treatment.

Background: Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease, which is initially well-treated with L-dopa. Living with Parkinson's disease means living with the experience of continuous loss of independence and self-esteem and unpredictable ON/OFF phenomena. Thus, in the advanced stage of the disease, treatment with Deep Brain Stimulation may become relevant.

Method: Eleven patients eligible for Deep Brain Stimulation were interviewed prior to treatment. Data were collected in 2007 and analysed according to the hermeneutic phenomenological methodology of van Manen, using the four existentials as analytic tools.

Findings: Living with advanced Parkinson's disease can be described as the experience of living with and managing unpredictability. The disease gradually took over, and participants had to struggle with unpredictability on a daily basis. Themes in relation to this were: The body - setting the agenda, Always a struggle to be on time, Living in dependence and compromise - being a burden, and Living with restrained space and changes in social life.

Conclusion: Parkinson's disease leads to profound bodily restrictions. Living with an unpredictable body affects all aspects of life, and nurses need to be aware of the impact the disease has on the entire lifeworld, and how this may affect the way treatment is perceived.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / psychology
  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Deep Brain Stimulation
  • Disease Progression*
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Dyskinesias / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Levodopa / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Parkinson Disease / psychology*
  • Parkinson Disease / therapy
  • Qualitative Research


  • Levodopa