Exploring the theoretical foundations of visual art programmes for people living with dementia

Gill Windle*, Samantha Gregory, Teri Howson-Griffiths, Andrew Newman, Dave O’Brien, Anna Goulding

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Despite the growing international innovations for visual arts interventions in dementia care, limited attention has been paid to their theoretical basis. In response, this paper explores how and why visual art interventions in dementia care influence changes in outcomes. The theory building process consists of a realist review of primary research on visual art programmes. This aims to uncover what works, for whom, how, why and in what circumstances. We undertook a qualitative exploration of stakeholder perspectives of art programmes, and then synthesised these two pieces of work alongside broader theory to produce a conceptual framework for intervention development, further research and practice. This suggests effective programmes are realised through essential attributes of two key conditions (provocative and stimulating aesthetic experience; dynamic and responsive artistic practice). These conditions are important for cognitive, social and individual responses, leading to benefits for people with early to more advanced dementia. This work represents a starting point at identifying theories of change for arts interventions, and for further research to critically examine, refine and strengthen the evidence base for the arts in dementia care. Understanding the theoretical basis of interventions is important for service development, evaluation and implementation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)702-727
Number of pages26
JournalDementia
Volume17
Issue number6
Early online date15 Sep 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018

Bibliographical note

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License (http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).

Keywords

  • arts and related therapy
  • creativity
  • dementia
  • theory
  • wellbeing

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