The Gerontologist
 QUICK SEARCH:   [advanced]


This Article
Right arrow Full Text
Right arrow Full Text (PDF)
Right arrow Alert me when this article is cited
Right arrow Alert me if a correction is posted
Right arrow Similar articles in this journal
Right arrow Similar articles in PubMed
Right arrow Alert me to new issues of the journal
Right arrow Download to citation manager
Citing Articles
Right arrow Citing Articles via Google Scholar
Google Scholar
Right arrow Articles by Cohen, G. D.
Right arrow Articles by Simmens, S.
Right arrow Search for Related Content
Right arrow PubMed Citation
Right arrow Articles by Cohen, G. D.
Right arrow Articles by Simmens, S.
The Gerontologist 46:726-734 (2006)
© 2006 The Gerontological Society of America

The Impact of Professionally Conducted Cultural Programs on the Physical Health, Mental Health, and Social Functioning of Older Adults

Gene D. Cohen, MD, PhD6, Susan Perlstein, MSW1, Jeff Chapline, MFA2, Jeanne Kelly, MM3, Kimberly M. Firth, PhD4 and Samuel Simmens, PhD5

Correspondence: Address correspondence to Gene D. Cohen, MD, PhD, Center on Aging, Health & Humanities, The George Washington University, 10225 Montgomery Avenue, Kensington, MD 20895. E-Mail: GENCOWDC{at}

Purpose: The aim of this study was to measure the impact of professionally conducted community-based cultural programs on the physical health, mental health, and social activities of individuals aged 65 and older. Design and Methods: Participants in the study were 166 healthy, ambulatory older adults from the Washington, DC, area. We assigned them to either an intervention (chorale) or comparison (usual activity) group and assessed them at baseline and after 12 months. Results: Results obtained from utilizing established assessment questionnaires and self-reported measures, controlling for any baseline differences, revealed positive findings for the effectiveness of the intervention such that the intervention group reported a higher overall rating of physical health, fewer doctor visits, less medication use, fewer instances of falls, and fewer other health problems than the comparison group. The intervention group also evidenced better morale and less loneliness than the comparison group. In terms of activity level, the comparison group evidenced a significant decline in total number of activities, whereas the intervention group reported a trend toward increased activity. Implications: The positive impact of participatory art programs for older adults in this study on overall health, doctor visits, medication use, falls, loneliness, morale, and activities reflects important health promotion and prevention effects and a reduction of risk factors driving the need for long-term care.

Key Words: Creativity • Arts • Health promotion • Prevention • Risk reduction

All GSA journals Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Copyright © 2006 by The Gerontological Society of America.