Date of Paper/Work


Type of Paper/Work


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Occupational Therapy


Occupational Science/Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Catherine Sullivan,Ph.D., OTR/L


Occupational Therapy


The goal of this interdisciplinary quasi-experimental mixed methods study with older adults living in congregate senior housing was to describe participants’ experience of a creative arts program and evaluate its impact on quality of life. Fourteen older adults completed this study. The program was offered weekly for 2 hours over a 12-week period. The quantitative outcome measures included the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA), the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS), the Short Form-36 (SF-36) quality of life measure, and the Abbreviated Torrance Test for Adults (ATTA), a test of creativity. None of the quantitative outcome measures showed significant improvements after the intervention when compared to the baseline period. Qualitative data collected through individual semi-structured interviews were transcribed, coded, and analyzed. Qualitative results revealed six main themes: 1) Novel and engaging group artistic experience provides opportunity to test and overcome limits, 2) Feelings of trust, acceptance, and comfort within the group support self-expression, 3) Transformative creative experience in expressing true self, trying new things, and imagining endless possibilities, 4) The program was experienced as energizing and fun, generating a positive outlook on life, 5) Music and dance fostered mutual knowledge, emotional connection to one’s own heritage, and cultural understanding, and 6) The program resulted in increased social interactions and a stronger feeling of community. Although those findings are encouraging, more studies using a variety of methodologies and interventions are needed to inform art-based health promotion efforts in the older adult population.