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Gerontologist. 2014 Jun;54(3):344-53. doi: 10.1093/geront/gnt055. Epub 2013 Jun 7.

"Shall I compare thee to a dose of donepezil?": cultural arts interventions in dementia care research.

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*Address correspondence to Kate de Medeiros, Department of Sociology and Gerontology, Miami University, 375 Upham Hall, Oxford, OH 45056. E-mail:


The cultural arts have gained attention for their potential to generate social and behavioral changes in people with dementia. Although individual cultural arts intervention studies have reported positive outcomes, most are excluded from systematic reviews because of methodological weakness. We reviewed findings from 27 systematic and integrative reviews of pharmacologic, psychosocial, and cultural arts interventions to identify promising outcomes as well as limitations in current approaches. Although results point to the potential success of interventions tailored to individual interests, most focused on limited measurements of individual change. In moving forward, cultural arts intervention research must not be limited to the tools of the clinical trial model. Instead, researchers should carefully rethink what constitutes rigorous and effective research for interventions aimed at creating a meaningful personal experience for the participant rather than measurable change.


Arts and related therapy; Creativity; Cultural arts; Dementia; Intervention; Meaningful expression

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