Medical health and emotional effects of art stimulation in old age. A controlled intervention study concerning the effects of visual stimulation provided in the form of pictures

Psychother Psychosom. 1993;60(3-4):195-206. doi: 10.1159/000288693.


The present article reports on a controlled intervention study of the effects of a nondirected use of pictures as a possible modality for improving well-being in elderly women. Works of art were chosen for the individual taste pattern on the basis of psychological and art scientific research on aesthetic reactions to and perception of art. Participants were randomly allocated either to the intervention (n = 20) or to the control (n = 20) group. Participants in both groups had the same amount of social contact with and attention from the experimenter. The difference between the groups indicated improved well-being in the intervention group, an improvement not seen in the control group. The quantitative analyses of the results reveal a significant improvement of the positive mood parameters happiness, peacefulness, satisfaction and calmness and the negative parameters low-spirited, unhappy and sad. Systolic blood pressure decreased and an improvement was seen in the subjects' medical health status with regard to reported dizziness, fatigue, pain and use of laxatives.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / psychology
  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Arousal
  • Art Therapy*
  • Attitude
  • Blood Pressure
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Homes for the Aged
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Quality of Life
  • Sick Role*