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Aim: The dual aim of this research was to consider the impact of providing the First Steps program on the stories of people with Parkinson's Disease (PD) and to investigate the psychosocial and emotional mechanisms which may explain this impact. Methods: A qualitative study using a subtle realist paradigm and hermeneutic phenomenological methodology was undertaken. A single semi-structured interview was used to consider the impact and experiences of people with PD who completed either the intervention (2-day peer-led behavior intervention using storytelling 6-8 weeks apart) or received telephone support calls as part of the active control group. Descriptive statistics and a narrative analysis were undertaken on the results. Results: Forty-two participants were invited to participate, forty of whom completed the interview. This included 18 from the intervention group and 22 from the active control group. The intervention group identified the value of the program as worth-while, demonstrating improved exercise behavior and coping mechanisms following the intervention. Three major stories (the affirmed, the validated and the transformed story) identified the impact of the intervention. Three internal mechanisms (perceived control, hope and action, and the individual's mind set) alongside three social mechanisms (social comparison, social control and the first opportunity to share with peers) appeared to explain this impact. Conclusion: This study provides exciting and novel evidence of the impact of a peer-led psycho-educational intervention for people newly diagnosed with PD. Further research is needed to consider the impact of stories-based approaches on participants and consider a critical evaluation of the mechanisms which may explain changes in stories and self-reported behaviour.

Original publication




Journal article


Behav Sci (Basel)

Publication Date





Parkinson’s disease, illness narratives, rehabilitation, storytelling, therapy