Social work scope of practice with Parkinson's disease: A qualitative study

Linda Kreitzer, Jessica Shurer, Elaine Book, Lisa Zerden, Ting Guan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The field of social work has seen increased recognition across many sectors in recent years. Evolving racial, political, and medical paradigms and the COVID-19 pandemic have shown the importance of a person-centered approach to health and mental health. One such area of practice is neurology, specifically work with people with Parkinson's disease (PD), which is the second most common neurodegenerative disease, currently impacting more than 10 million people worldwide. While social workers have long played key roles in multidisciplinary teams in PD care settings, research and literature offering assessment and evidence in this area remain limited. This research study used a mixed-methods approach with additional in-depth qualitative interviews conducted with 11 social workers. This article presents findings from the 11 interviewees who are presently working with people with PD using thematic analysis. Findings<jats:p/> Themes emerging were an in-depth detailed role of the social worker, the importance of strong relationships working with people with PD and their families, multidisciplinary teams, and the community. Institutional challenges were highlighted concerning supporting social work positions and encouraging social work intervention from the beginning of diagnosis to the end stages of the disease. COVID-19 proved very challenging for social workers, multidisciplinary teams, and families, and yet positive practices were identified as well. Applications<jats:p/> The impact of this study reinforces the essential role specialized PD social workers play in multidisciplinary PD teams and recognition needed to increase their role through early intervention reflected in increasing social work positions in neurology.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Social Work
StatePublished - Oct 31 2023


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