An arts-based intervention at a nursing home to improve medical students' attitudes toward persons with dementia

Acad Med. 2013 Jun;88(6):837-42. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e31828fa773.


Purpose: Emerging data suggest that students' attitudes toward older patients may be positively affected by geriatric experiences that are not clinically based, but no known interventions have used creative arts to integrate humanistic experiences into medical student geriatric education. This 2012 study evaluated whether participating in TimeSlips, a creative group-based storytelling program involving persons with dementia, improved medical students' attitudes toward such patients.

Method: The authors administered the Dementia Attitudes Scale (DAS) to 22 fourth-year medical students to evaluate the mean change in their self-reported attitudes toward persons with dementia. The authors used paired t tests or Wilcoxon signed-rank tests to analyze pre- and post-program scores on the individual items of the DAS, on the subdomains of "comfort" and "knowledge," and on the overall scale. They used Cronbach alpha to evaluate the internal consistency and reliability of the "comfort" and "knowledge" subdomains and of the overall scale.

Results: Medical students' attitudes, as measured by the significantly higher scores on 12 of the 20 items, on each of the two subdomains, and on the overall scale, showed improvement after the TimeSlips sessions. The DAS showed acceptable to good internal consistency on both subdomains and on the overall scale both pre and post session; however, the internal consistency analysis is preliminary because of small sample size.

Conclusions: The authors' findings provide preliminary evidence that participation in a creative storytelling program at a nursing home improves medical students' attitudes toward persons with dementia and adds to evidence supporting the reliability of the DAS.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease
  • Art*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Dementia*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nursing Homes*
  • Students, Medical*