graphic Tufts University, 200 Boston Avenue, Medford, MA 02155 Ph: (617) 627-4591

About Us


Research Projects

Get Involved

News & Events

Publications & Research Tools


Links & Resources

Contact Us & Directions


Research Projects

Current Projects:

Social Self-Management of Parkinson's Disease
R01 project funded by NIH's National Institute of Nursing Research
Linda Tickle-Degnen
Co-Is: Elena Naumova, Tufts University; Marie Saint-Hilaire, Boston University School of Medicine

The purpose of this study is to better understand the relationship between Parkinson's disease and changes in social activities over time, as well as to inform policies for supporting people living in the community with Parkinson's disease and their care givers.

Social Robotics and Parkinson's Disease
Project funded by the National Robotics Institute of the National Science Foundation
Matthias Scheutz
Co-I: Linda Tickle-Degnen
The purpose of this study is to better understand how people with Parkinson's disease respond to robots when discussing their health quality of life, as well as to inform development of a social robot to assist people with Parkinson's disease.

Completed Projects:

Seeing Beyond the Symptoms: A Training Program to Improve Trait Inferences in Parkinson's Disease
PIs: Heather Gray, Kathleen Bogart

Aside from physical symptoms, people with Parkinson's disease (PD) face a range of negative psychological and social consequences. For instance, perceivers—even expert healthcare practitioners—tend to misperceive their personality traits (Tickle-Degnen & Lyons, 2004). We suspect that this problem may be attributable to the difficulty PD patients have expressing themselves through subtle nonverbal signals. In this project, we develop and refine a method for improving healthcare practitioners' ability to form valid impressions of personality in the context of PD. Our training program includes important information about how PD changes peoples' ability to express themselves nonverbally. We will examine whether novice healthcare practitioners who receive the training program show improvements in perceiving personality.

Age Peers' Impressions of Parkinson's disease
PI: Amanda Hemmesch

The goal of this study is to understand more about how the symptoms of Parkinson's disease (PD) influence peers' first impressions of people with PD. For this study, older adults are asked to watch short video clips of individuals with PD and make ratings about what they see in the clips. The results of this study will provide more information about the how symptoms of PD influence the processes underlying how older adults decide which social relationships to begin and to maintain. We hope that this research will provide additional information to help improve social relationships for individuals with PD.

Compensatory Expressive Behavior for Social Functioning with Facial Paralysis
PI: Kathleen Bogart

This study uses videotaped interview methods to study how people with facial paralysis communicate their emotions and how others form impressions about them. We expect this project to identify effective verbal and nonverbal communication strategies that people with facial paralysis can use to express themselves despite their lack of facial expression.

Culture, Gender, and Health Care Stigma in Parkinsonism
R01 project funded by NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders & Stroke
PI: Linda Tickle-Degnen
Co-I: Hui-ing Ma, National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan
Consultant: Leslie Zebrowitz, Brandeis University

This project used videotape methods to study the effect of patient culture and gender on healthcare practitioners' ability to diagnose nonverbal and verbal expression in people with Parkinson's Disease. Patients and practitioners in Taiwan and America are participating in this study. The purpose of this project was to elucidate the consequences of parkinsonian facial and bodily movement on practitioner impressions and conclusions about patient ability to engage in a successful therapeutic relationship.

Rehabilitation for the Self-Management of Parkinson's Disease
R01 project funded by NIH's National Institute of Aging
PI: Robert Wagenaar, Boston University
Co-I: Linda Tickle-Degnen
Research Associate: Terry Ellis, Boston University

This project was a randomized-controlled trial testing the efficacy of self-management rehabilitation on day-to-day functioning and quality of life of community-living people with Parkinson's disease, beyond the effects of medical treatment alone. The study found positive effects of the rehabilitation program. Interdisciplinary rehabilitation was provided by therapists from the disciplines of physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech and language pathology. Nonverbal and verbal communication outcomes are currently being analyzed in nearly 500 videotapes of interviews with 116 people with PD about daily life experiences while they were engaged in the trial.

Expressing Self-Efficacy in Parkinson's disease
PI: Kayoko Takahashi

The purpose of this study was to develop a way to use nonverbal behavior to gain insight into the motivational states of people with PD. The study found there to be nonverbal cues that appeared to signal motivation states such as apathy, hopelessness, hopefulness, or resistance to change. The results of this research could be useful to rehabilitation therapists who want to better understand the implications of their clients’ behavior.

Facial Expressiveness and Social Quality of Life in Parkinson's Disease: A Rapport Mediated Model
PI: Pai-chuan Huang

The goal of this project was to examine the association between facial expressiveness and social aspects of quality of life in people with Parkinson's disease (PD), and to investigate the underlying mechanism of the association in order to provide recommendations for developing interventions. People with PD may experience reduced facial expressions (facial masking), which may contribute to negative first impressions. In addition, social quality of life may be compromised. This work explored the association between facial masking and reduced social quality of life in PD. In addition to describing the association between these two factors, the project also explored reduced capacity to show rapport behavior.


  Tufts University | Occupational Therapy | Maps & Directions  
  © 2021 Tufts University | Privacy