Family members of people with Parkinson's disease (PD) may experience third-party disability, manifesting as difficulty managing communication breakdowns and changed relationships influenced by communication disorders. This study examined family involvement in therapy to address third-party disability from the perspective of family members of people with PD and speech-language pathologists (SLPs).


A mixed-methods design was used with two phases of data collection. In Phase 1 qualitative interviews, nine family members shared their perspectives about their involvement in therapy. In Phase 2, a survey was developed from Phase 1 data to gather data from SLPs (N = 110) on their clinical practices involving family members.


Family members and SLPs agreed that when family were involved in therapy, it was primarily to support therapy exercises for the person with PD. Many SLPs reported providing supportive activities for family members. However, qualitative data from family members suggested that the limited involvement they had in therapy did not sufficiently meet their unique needs resulting from communication changes with the person with PD and other related challenges. Constraints influencing family member involvement included insurance billing regulations, privacy laws for patients, and family members' availability.


While some families and SLPs reported efforts to specifically include families and address their needs in therapy, these practices were inconsistent and, from families' perspectives, insufficient to meet their own needs. Future research should consider family-centered approaches that involve family members in speech-language therapy to enhance their daily lives, along with persons with PD.


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