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Background: Persons with Parkinson’s (PwPD) seek to age in place and slow the functional decline that comes with the disease process. Membership in community-based and fitness programs provides a social safe environment that significantly impacts an individual’s psychological well-being and occupational independence. The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) supports and promotes partnering with community organizations that promote and valuemaintaining occupational independence for community dwellers.

Objective: This study investigated the perceived benefits of belonging to a community organization that supports health management and well-being for PwPD.

Methods: A qualitative ethnographic study used immersive participant observation, and conducted two focus groups of PwPD (n=4), and caregivers (CG) (n=3) respectively. Inclusion criteria were participation in fitness classes hosted by a community organization 2x/wk for the PwD group and attendance in the support group for the CG group. Data included a field journal and focus group discussions. Data analysis using open line coding, memo-ing, and data fracturing to explore emerging themes. Dedoose Version 9.0.17 (2021) was used to code and analyze data

Results: Themes that emerged from the transcribed data include community organizations being a safe haven, providing support for strategizing, coping, and wellbeing, preventing exacerbation of symptoms, and being a bridge to community living.

Conclusion: The themes indicate PwPD and CG perceived benefits, including symptom maintenance, health management, and overall quality of life (QOL).

Publication Date

Summer 8-9-2023


University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences

Medical Subject Headings

Parkinson's Disease, Community health, Caregiver, Independent living, Health resources


Community Health | Occupational Therapy


Poster presented at the Summer 2023 Virtual OTD Capstone Symposium held online at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences on August 2-9, 2023

The Perceived Benefits of Belonging to a Community Organization for People with Parkinson's Disease (PwPD): An Ethnographic study