Effects of an art-based intervention in older adults with mild cognitive impairment: a randomised controlled trial

Age Ageing. 2022 Jul 1;51(7):afac144. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afac144.


Background: Art-based interventions may delay cognitive decline and improve health-related outcomes in older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

Objective: To examine the effects of the Creative Expressive Arts-based Storytelling (CrEAS) program compared to active and waitlist controls on neurocognitive and other health-related outcomes in older people with MCI.

Design: Three-arm parallel-group, randomised controlled design.

Participants: One-hundred and thirty-five adults with MCI (mean age: 70.93 ± 6.91 years).

Methods: Participants were randomly assigned to intervention (CrEAS, n = 45), active control (n = 45) or waitlist control (n = 45) groups. Interventions were applied once per week for 24 weeks. The primary outcome was global cognitive function; secondary outcomes were specific cognition domains (memory, executive function, language and attention) and other health-related outcomes (anxiety, depression and quality of life [QoL]). All variables were measured at baseline (T0), 24-week follow-up (T1) and 48-week follow-up (T2).

Results: Participants in the CrEAS group showed significantly higher global cognitive function (adjusted mean difference [MD] = -0.905, 95% confidence interval [CI] -1.748 to -0.062; P = 0.038) and QoL (adjusted MD = -4.150, 95% CI -6.447 to -1.853; P = 0.001) and lower depression symptoms (adjusted MD = 2.902, 95% CI 0.699-5.104; P = 0.011) post-intervention at the 24-week follow-up compared with the active control group. At 48-week follow-up, only the Auditory Verbal Learning Test Immediate recall score was significantly improved compared with the active control group (adjusted MD = -2.941, 95% CI -5.262 to -0.620; P = 0.014).

Conclusions: Older adults with MCI who participated in the CrEAS program improved their neuropsychological outcomes and QoL and reduced their rate of cognitive deterioration.

Keywords: art; mild cognitive impairment; non-pharmacological intervention; older people; prevention; randomised controlled trial; storytelling.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cognition
  • Cognition Disorders*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / diagnosis
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / psychology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / therapy
  • Executive Function
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life