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Archibald M & Kitson A. Using the arts for awareness, communication and knowledge translation in older adulthood: A scoping review Arts & Health. 2019; 1-7.
• How are the arts being used to facilitate communication about ageing, ageing-related processes, and associated care?
• Art is an important part of culture as well as a powerful means of communicating about the human experience. Recognizing this, health researchers have begun to leverage the benefits of arts engagement in older adulthood.
• A growing body of research supports the positive effects of art on individuals, communities, and societies. Participation in art has been shown to reduce blood pressure, anxiety, and depressive symptoms; enhance social connectedness and community engagement; and improve self-efficacy, sense of purpose, health literacy, quality of life, and overall wellness.
• Importantly, art can also help older adults shift from a deficit to potential perspective of aging, whereby they recognize and celebrate their creativity and potential for growth rather than focusing on their diminishing mental or physical capabilities.
• This review aims to explore how arts can be used to facilitate communication about ageing, ageing-related processes, and associated care.
• Study authors searched 4 interdisciplinary databases for articles suitable for inclusion in this review.
• Keywords such as storytelling, art, arts-based, theatre, dance, older adult, knowledge translation, elderly and frailty were used in the search.
• Although results were restricted to English-language articles, no date limiters were placed on the studies.
• Of the 1,321 articles screened from the search results, 11 were included in the review.
• Included studies focused on a variety of topics. Of these, dementia was the most common (45%), followed by centenarians (18%). Widowhood, isolation, older adulthood and frailty, and the ageing process were also represented to a smaller extent.
• Review authors also examined the process through which arts-based strategies were developed in the included studies. It was found that arts program development is often a linear process moving from the identification of a problem to the creation of a program to address it. During the problem identification phase, authors generally considered the suitability of the art form to the existing problem.
• It was found that all arts approaches incorporated at least one narrative component, most commonly through performance theatre.
• Most programs sought to either improve care, communication, attitudes, or participants’ engagement with life events.
• Some examples of interventions to address ageism, for example, included the creation of centenarians’ stories and the use of drama to provoke discussion about the issue at hand.
• This review provided an overview of the current stage of arts-based programming for older adults and mapped existing processes used to develop arts-based approaches to healthcare delivery.
• As the role of art engagement in older adulthood grows with evidence-based healthcare, study authors see a tremendous opportunity for researchers to develop further programming for the benefit of older adults.