Subjective wellbeing in people living with dementia: exploring processes of multiple object handling sessions in a museum setting

Camic, Paul M ORCID: 0000-0002-4444-6544, Dickens, Laura, Zeilig, Hannah and Strohmaier, Sarah ORCID: 0000-0002-2569-8447 (2021) Subjective wellbeing in people living with dementia: exploring processes of multiple object handling sessions in a museum setting. Wellcome Open Research, 6. p. 96. ISSN 2398-502X


Abstract Background: Dementia care guidance highlights the importance of supporting people living with dementia to access engaging and meaningful activities to promote their quality of life. There is a growing evidence base for the efficacy of heritage settings and arts-based interventions to provide social prescribing opportunities to help support wellbeing in this population. This study extended previous research and explored the potential processes underlying this effect in multiple small group object handling sessions in a museum setting. Methods: A mixed-methods design was used comprising a measure of subjective wellbeing and thematic analysis to explore in-the-moment session content across multiple sessions. Four people with dementia participated in three, one-hour group object handling sessions led by two facilitators. Results: Pre-post wellbeing scores showed increases after each session though this was largely not significant. Qualitative findings provided more compelling results, however, and identified four key themes: facilitating, interest in exploring objects, active participation, and group collaboration; interpretations were made around the dynamic interaction of themes and subthemes over the course of three sessions. Conclusions: This is the first study we are aware of that has taken an in-depth look at multiple museum-based group object handling sessions for people living with dementia. Findings offer ways to optimise object handling sessions for people with dementia by providing in-depth information about the processes involved across multiple object handling sessions facilitated by museum/heritage professionals in a museum setting. This has useful implications for community-based activities as part of dementia care planning and public health programming. The study contributes to a deeper understanding and elucidates the processes that enhance wellbeing for this population who participate in such sessions. It also helps to develop further theoretical understanding about why these types of activities are helpful in community-based dementia care. Limitations and implications for future research are discussed.

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First Version Published: 07 May 2021, 6:96 (
Latest Version Published: 11 Jun 2021, 6:96 (
Amendments from Version 1
Changes to the second version relate to comments made by the second reviewer, whom we thank for his close reading of our work. Additional information was added about the following: process of object handling, specifics about the museum setting and room location where the intervention took place, signposting to the protocol to identify the questions asked during each session and types of objects (with photos for each), number of objects in total and per session, additional information about the inclusion of olfactory objects in session 2, and clarity about the importance of stakeholder involvement.
See the detailed response from the author(s) to the review by Ana M. Ullán
See the detailed response from the author(s) to the review by Lee Burnside

Item type Article
DOI 10.12688/wellcomeopenres.16819.2
Official URL
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 5204 Cognitive and computational psychology
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Health and Sport
Keywords dementia diagnosis, object handling, quality of life, efficacy of heritage settings, arts-based interventions, social life
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