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The Effect of a Community-Engaged Arts Program on Older Adults’ Well-being*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 August 2014

Alison Phinney*
University of British Columbia School of Nursing
Elaine M. Moody
University of British Columbia School of Nursing
Jeff A. Small
University of British Columbia School of Audiology and Speech Sciences
La correspondance et les demandes de tirés-à-part doivent être adressées à : / Correspondence and requests for offprints should be sent to: Alison Phinney, Ph.D. University of British Columbia School of Nursing T201 2211 Wesbrook Mall Vancouver, BC V5X 2Y4 (


This mixed-methods study evaluated the effect of a community-engaged arts program on the physical, emotional, and social well-being of seniors. Weekly workshops were offered over a three-year period at community centers where artists worked with four groups of seniors to produce a collective art piece or performance for public presentation. Participants completed pre- and post- questionnaires, and group interviews were conducted at the program’s end. Paired t-test analyses indicated that seniors experienced improvement in perceived overall health, experience of pain, and sense of community. Interpretive descriptive analysis of the group interviews revealed six themes that informed understanding : (1) providing structure and discipline; (2) facilitating coping; (3) requiring hard work and effort; (4) bringing out one’s artistic side; (5) promoting social involvement; and (6) making a contribution. These results are consistent with previous research and contribute to further understanding of how community-engaged arts can benefit the well-being of older people.


Cette étude utilisant des méthodes mixtes a évalué l'effet d'un programme d'arts communautaires engagés sur le bien-être physique, émotionnel et social des personnes âgées. Ateliers hebdomadaires ont été offerts pendant une période de trois ans dans des centres communautaires où les artistes ont collaboré avec quatre groupes de personnes âgées pour produire une œuvre d'art collective ou la performance d'une présentation publique. Les participants ont rempli questionnaires avant et après et des entretiens de groupe ont été menées à la fin du programme. Des analyses t-test appariés ont indiqué que les personnes âgées ont connu une amélioration perçue dans leur état de santé générale, l’expérience de la douleur, et le sens de la communauté. Une analyse descriptive et intérpretative des entretiens de groupe a révélé six thèmes qui ont éclairé la compréhension: (1) fournissant de la structure et de la discipline; (2) facilitant l’adaptation; (3) nécessitant un travail acharné et des efforts; (4) faisant ressortir son côté artistique; (5) la promotion de la participation sociale; et (6) apportant une contribution. Ces résultats concordent avec les recherches antérieures et contribuent à une meilleure compréhension de la façon dont les arts communautaires engagés peuvent favoriser le bien-être des personnes âgées.

Research Note / Note de recherche
Copyright © Canadian Association on Gerontology 2014 

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This research was funded by the University of British Columbia School of Nursing Katherine McMillan Fund.


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