Background: This pilot study investigated the effects of calligraphy therapy on cognitive function in older Hong Kong Chinese people with mild cognitive impairment.
Methods: A single-blind, randomized controlled trial was carried out in a sample of 31 adults aged 65 years or older with mild cognitive impairment. They were randomly assigned to receive either intensive calligraphy training led by a trained research assistant for eight weeks (calligraphy group, n = 14) or no calligraphy treatment (control group, n = 17). Participants' cognitive function was assessed by the Chinese version of the Mini-Mental State Examination (CMMSE) before and after calligraphy treatment. Repeated measures analysis of variance and paired samples t-tests were used to analyze the data.
Results: A significant interaction effect of time and intervention was detected [F (1, 29) = 9.11, P = 0.005, η(2) = 0.24]. The calligraphy group was found to have a prominent increase in CMMSE global score, and scores in the cognitive areas of orientation, attention, and calculation after two months (ΔM = 2.36, P < 0.01), whereas their counterparts in the control group experienced a decline in CMMSE score (ΔM = -0.41, P < 0.05).
Conclusion: Calligraphy therapy was effective for enhancing cognitive function in older people with mild cognitive impairment and should be incorporated as part of routine programs in both community and residential care settings.
Keywords: Chinese elderly; calligraphy therapy; cognitive function; mild cognitive impairment; randomized controlled trial.