The impact of community-based arts and health interventions on cognition in people with dementia: a systematic literature review

YOUNG Rhea, CAMIC Paul M., TISCHLER Victoria
Journal article citation:
Aging and Mental Health, 20(4), 2016, pp.337-351.
Taylor and Francis

Objectives: Dementia is a progressive condition, affecting increasing numbers of people, characterised by cognitive decline. The current systematic review aimed to evaluate research pertaining to the impact of arts and health interventions on cognition in people with dementia. Method: A literature search was conducted utilising PsychInfo, Cochrane Reviews, Web of Science, Medline and British Humanities Index databases. Seventeen studies were included in the review, including those related to literary, performing and visual arts. Results: The review highlighted this as an emerging area of research with the literature consisting largely of small-scale studies with methodological limitations including lack of control groups and often poorly defined samples. All the studies suggested, however, that arts-based activities had a positive impact on cognitive processes, in particular on attention, stimulation of memories, enhanced communication and engagement with creative activities. Conclusion: The existent literature suggests that arts activities are helpful interventions within dementia care. A consensus has yet to emerge, however, about the direction for future research including the challenge of measurement and the importance of methodological flexibility. It is suggested that further research address some of these limitations by examining whether the impact of interventions vary depending on cognitive ability and to continue to assess how arts interventions can be of use across the stages of dementia. (Publisher abstract)

Subject terms:
health care, intervention, arts, dementia, systematic reviews, wellbeing, communities;
Content type:
systematic review
Journal home page
ISSN online:
ISSN print:

Key to icons

  • Free resource Free resource
  • Journal article Journal article
  • Book Book
  • Digital media Digital media
  • Journal Journal

Give us your feedback

Social Care Online continues to be developed in response to user feedback.

Contact us with your comments and for any problems using the website.

Sign up/login for more

Register/login to use standard search filters, access resource links, advanced search and email alerts