Arts-based interventions for people living with dementia: Measuring 'in the moment' wellbeing with the Canterbury Wellbeing Scales

Strohmaier, Sarah ORCID: 0000-0002-2569-8447, Homans, Karl M ORCID: 0000-0002-4148-3390, Hulbert, Sabina ORCID: 0000-0002-3247-7271, Crutch, Sebastian V ORCID: 0000-0002-4160-0139, Brotherhood, Emilie V ORCID: 0000-0002-6244-7735, Harding, Emma ORCID: 0000-0001-9675-2335 and Camic, Paul M ORCID: 0000-0002-4444-6544 (2021) Arts-based interventions for people living with dementia: Measuring 'in the moment' wellbeing with the Canterbury Wellbeing Scales. Wellcome open research, 6. ISSN 2398-502X


Background: There is growing acknowledgement for the need to move beyond exclusive biomedical understandings of dementia and also focus on how to improve the lives and wellbeing of people living with dementia. A mounting body of research advocates for the benefits of arts-based interventions for this population. The purpose of this study was to explore the links between multiple components of arts-based interventions and subjective wellbeing in order to help assess if these activities might contribute to meaningful community-based dementia care initiatives. Methods: Using previously collected data across different intervention sites, a within- and between- participants design was used that assessed wellbeing through the Canterbury Wellbeing Scales (CWS) in people with mild-to-moderate dementias (N = 201) who participated in various community arts-based interventions (ABI). Data were analysed using non-parametric statistical analyses and bootstrapped moderation models. Results: Increases in subjective wellbeing were associated with all forms of ABI. Co-creative sessions significantly strengthened the relationship between number of sessions attended and overall wellbeing as well as optimism. No significant moderating effect was observed between number of sessions attended and carer presence. Conclusions: In the largest study of its kind to date to assess wellbeing using arts activities in a community-based dementia sample, findings support the use and acceptability of the CWS as a measurement tool for people with early-to-middle stages of dementia and suggest that the CWS can reliably measure wellbeing in this population. In addition, the positive effect of arts-based interactions on specific aspects of wellbeing were found, which provide a better understanding of the conditions under which these effects can be prolonged and sustained. Further research is needed to better understand the environmental, social, and psychological mechanisms through which these improvements operate.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.12688/wellcomeopenres.16596.3
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Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4203 Health services and systems
Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 5204 Cognitive and computational psychology
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Health and Sport
Keywords dementia care, new learning, cognitive functioning, confidence, self-esteem, social participation
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