The Science

The Dance for Parkinson’s research project led by Sara Houston and Ashley McGill at the Univeristy of Roehampton is a mixed-methods study, with both qualitative and quantitative data collected. The results are triangulated to achieve a more comprehensive understanding of the data. A control group of people with Parkinson’s who do not dance is used for comparison.

The study takes the position that a mixed-methods project is the best way to examine an artistic practice. Pilot methods and analysis can be found in the article A Mixed-methods Study into Ballet for People Living with Parkinson’s.

The case is also argued in Dance for Parkinson’s: A new framework for research on its physical, mental, emotional, and social benefits and The Methodological Challenges of Researching Dance for People Living with Parkinson’s.

Data collection includes:

  • Bio-mechanical measurements, such as gait analysis using inertial sensors and postural assessment using electro-magnetic devices
  • Use of the MDS Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale
  • One-to-one multiple semi-structured interviews, focus groups, discussion groups
  • Diaries kept by participants
  • Participant observation and filming of all classes
  • Questionnaires, such as the Activities Specific Balance Confidence Questionnaire and the Dance for Parkinson’s Questionnaire (devised from validated questionnaires by the University of Denver specifically for people with Parkinson’s who dance)
  • Health and falls information forms and a register of class attendance

Data collection finished in July 2014, and the results and the researchers’ conclusions are published as they come in.