Controlled study on the cognitive and psychological effect of coloring and drawing in mild Alzheimer's disease patients

Geriatr Gerontol Int. 2011 Oct;11(4):431-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1447-0594.2011.00698.x. Epub 2011 Apr 26.


Aim: Art therapy has been reported to have effects on mental symptoms in patients with dementia, and its usefulness is expected. We performed a controlled trial to evaluate the usefulness of art therapy compared with calculation training in patients with mild Alzheimer's disease.

Methods: Thirty-nine patients with Alzheimer's disease showing slightly decreased cognitive function allowing treatment on an outpatient basis were randomly allocated to art therapy and control (learning therapy using calculation) groups, and intervention was performed once weekly for 12weeks.

Results: Comparison of the results of evaluation between before and after therapy in each group showed significant improvement in the Apathy Scale in the art therapy group (P=0.014) and in the Mini-Mental State Examination score (P=0.015) in the calculation drill group, but no significant differences in the other items between the two groups. Patients showing a 10% or greater improvement were compared between the two groups. Significant improvement in the quality of life (QOL) was observed in the art therapy compared with the calculation training group (P=0.038, odds ratio, 5.54). anova concerning improvement after each method revealed no significant difference in any item.

Conclusion: These results suggested improvement in at least the vitality and the QOL of patients with mild Alzheimer's disease after art therapy compared with calculation, but no marked comprehensive differences between the two methods. In non-pharmacological therapy for dementia, studies attaching importance to the motivation and satisfaction of patients and their family members rather than the superiority of methods may be necessary in the future.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / rehabilitation*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Art Therapy*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Quality of Life
  • Treatment Outcome