The purpose of this study was to explore the illness experience of persons living with Parkinson’s disease. Using the visual elicitation method, Photovoice, we asked participants to take a series of photographs that for them, represented the everyday challenges related to the disease. The photos served as starting and reference points for the individual narratives provided by each participant as they engaged in a follow-up dialogical interview with the researcher. Using thematic analysis of the interview data, the research team, together with the participants, identified one overarching theme, “staying determined,” and five sub-themes “staying active,” “finding purpose and meaning,” “finding joy,” “keeping it private,” and “staying connected despite a loss.” We were able to gain important insights into how participants perceived their disease, including the “inward” and “outward” coping strategies they used in their daily lives. We believe that through this visual elicitation participatory, action-oriented data collection method the participants also gained new insights into their lives through their photographs and the related interviews, and were empowered as a result.


Parkinson’s Disease, Photovoice, Illness Experience, Empowerment, Co-Learning

Author Bio(s)

Melinda is a qualitative researcher with advanced training in Parkinson’s disease. She has published a number of articles on Parkinson’s is a caregiver of a family with Parkinson’s. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: Melinda Hermanns at The University of Texas at Tyler, College of Nursing and Health Sciences, 3900 University Blvd., Tyler, Texas 75799, E-mail: mhermanns@uttyler.edu, Phone: 903-565-7094, or Fax: 903-565-5533.

Danice is a quantitative researcher with extensive experience in cardiovascular health promotion, hypertension, health disparities, chronic illness, religious/spiritual coping, and statistics. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: Danice B. Greer at dgreer@uttyler.edu

Cheryl is a qualitative researcher with a focus on health and culture and has published research on the use of Photovoice as a data collection method. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: Cheryl Cooper at, ccooper@uttyler.edu


This study was funded by the Iota Nu Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau.

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