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Social and psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people with Parkinson's disease: a scoping review

Publication date: 

24 Sep 2021


Public Health Volume 199, October 2021, Pages 77-86


Brooks SK, Weston D, Greenberg N

Publication type: 



Abstract Objectives The COVID-19 pandemic caused countries across the globe to impose restrictions to slow the spread of the virus, with people instructed to stay at home and reduce contact with others. This reduction in social contact has the potential to negatively impact mental health and well-being. The restrictions are particularly concerning for people with existing chronic illnesses such as Parkinson's disease, who may be especially affected by concerns about the pandemic and associated reduction of social contact. The aim of this review was to synthesise published literature on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the social and psychological well-being of people with Parkinson's disease. Study design The design of this study is a scoping review. Methods We searched five electronic databases for English language articles containing primary data on this topic. Results Thirty-one relevant studies were found and included in the review. Six main themes were identified: impact of the pandemic on physical and mental health; COVID-19 concerns; access to health care; impact on daily and social activities; impact on physical activity and impact on caregivers. Levels of perceived risk of COVID-19 differed across studies, but most participants had adopted preventive measures such as staying at home and reducing social contacts. Participants in many studies reported a discontinuation of regular healthcare appointments and physiotherapy, as well as concerns about being able to obtain medication. Loss of daily activities and social support was noted by many participants. There was mixed evidence on the impact of the pandemic on physical exercise, with some studies finding no change in physical activity and others reporting a reduction; generally, participants with reduced physical activity had poorer mental health and greater worsening of symptoms. Caregivers of people with Parkinson's disease were more likely to be negatively affected by the pandemic if they cared for people with complex needs such as additional mental health problems. Conclusions The COVID-19 pandemic has had negative effects on the physical and mental health of people with Parkinson's disease, perhaps due to disruption of healthcare services, loss of usual activities and supports and reduction in physical activity. We make recommendations for policy, practice and future research.