PD SELF Program

PD SELF (Self-Efficacy Learning Forum) is an innovative disease management program created in 2013 by Diane Cook as the result of a clinical trial sponsored by the Colorado Neurological Institute.  It is an eight-module program that helps people newly diagnosed with Parkinson’s master the management of their disease and retain the best possible quality of life. It provides the motivation, information, skills, behaviors and philosophical construct to achieve these goals.

Based on the psychosocial theory of self-efficacy, PD SELF helps patients create a personalized approach to managing their disease. Self-efficacy is the belief that we can achieve influence over the conditions that affect our lives.  Building belief in our own capabilities increases our level of self-efficacy and influences what we are able to do. This increasing belief in our own power to effect change is a catalyst for a range of new, healthy behavior patterns.

The PD SELF Program consists of eight monthly 3-hour group sessions held in a community setting. The meeting room is arranged with small tables to encourage a small-group exchange of ideas and individual feedback from peers, especially around setting and achieving goals, problem solving, and how to overcome obstacles. Everyone in the group is at a similar stage in the disease, which allows for an active patient-to-patient exchange of timely and relevant information. The design of the curriculum, structure of each agenda, type of facilitation, topics covered, and arrangement of the meeting room are all designed to incorporate in numerous ways the four methods outlined by Bandura to increase levels of self-efficacy.

The first step is to set a series of ever more difficult goals; the accomplishment of each enhances the belief that we can achieve the next. This creates an experience of mastery which is the foundation of a strong sense of self belief. The second step is to identify a model to which we aspire, such as someone who is managing their Parkinson’s well.  Seeing others in a similar situation succeed through their own determined efforts raises the belief that we, too, can overcome the specific challenges we face.  The third step is to seek out positive reinforcement and encouragement which strengthens our belief that we have what it takes to succeed.  This approach is being used in the PD SELF programs now being conducted in thirteen different communities in the United States.

PD SELF Discussion Group, Denver

PD SELF Discussion Group, Denver

PD SELF group in Albany, New York

PD SELF group in Albany, New York

The curriculum is self-efficacy based and Parkinson’s specific. The content covers information about Parkinson’s disease, symptom management, psychological adjustments, lifestyle, social support, and a broad range of self-efficacy behaviors. It provides a framework for learning and discussion, a vehicle to engage the local health care community, flexibility to allow for creative input by the facilitator team, as well as important information that a PWP needs to help manage his or her disease and QoL.

Self-efficacy concepts and behaviors are interwoven into the presentations, exercises, and discussions each month. For some modules, each community may invite a local health care professional to present on some aspect of Parkinson’s disease, followed by a Q & A session. Small groups then address a set of discussion questions pertaining to understanding and applying what they have heard. Participants receive a PD SELF Field Guide, a loose-leaf manual containing a complete set of learning materials.

To reinforce the most powerful way to increase self-efficacy, participants are challenged each month with probing questions that assist them in developing a goal-setting, goal-achievement, and goal-tracking process that allows them to apply the most important information from that module to the effective management of their disease. At the end of each module, time is set aside for participants to complete the “My Goals/ My Learning” exercise outlining the action steps necessary to reach their goals. By the end of the PD SELF Program, each participant has a complete individualized set of goals related to the major facets of addressing their disease and improving their QoL. Those achieving their goals are “spotlighted,” and their successes serve as vicarious learning and models for others. The final module, “Moving Forward,” focuses on how participants can best continue to refer to, update, and make progress on the goals they have set.


Eligibility: Who can join a local PD SELF group?

People diagnosed with PD within three years and their care partners may be eligible to participate. Browse the list of current PD SELF programs or contact support@pdself.org to find out if there is a program near you.