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A Taxonomy of Arts Interventions for People With Dementia

Cousins, Emily; Tischler, Victoria; Garabedian, Claire; Dening, Tom

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Emily Cousins

Victoria Tischler

Claire Garabedian

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Clinical Professor in Dementia Research


Background and Objectives: The current evidence base for the arts and dementia has several limitations relating to the description, explanation, communication and simplification of arts interventions. Research addressing these challenges must be multi-disciplinary, taking account of humanities and science perspectives. Consequently, this research aimed to produce a taxonomy, or classification, of arts interventions for people with dementia as a contribution to this growing field.
Research Design and Methods: This research was underpinned by taxonomy and realist methodology. Taxonomy, the science of classification, produces a common language to name, define and describe the world around us. Realist theory explains how interventions ‘work’ and produce their effects. The main findings in this paper were generated from a case study and a Delphi study.
Results: An arts and dementia taxonomy of twelve dimensions was developed: Art Form, Artistic elements, Artistic focus, Artistic materials, Arts activity, Arts approaches, Arts facilitators, Arts location, Competencies, Complementary arts, Intervention context, Principles.
Discussion and Implications: Arts interventions can be classified according to their contexts, mechanisms and outcomes. A range of stakeholders could benefit from the taxonomy, including people with dementia, artists, practitioners, carers, care staff, funders, commissioners, researchers and academics. Language relating to the arts and dementia can be adapted depending on the audience. This is a foundational model requiring further development within the arts and dementia community.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 25, 2019
Online Publication Date Mar 6, 2019
Publication Date 2020-02
Deposit Date Feb 4, 2019
Publicly Available Date Mar 7, 2020
Journal The Gerontologist
Print ISSN 0016-9013
Electronic ISSN 1758-5341
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 60
Issue 1
Pages 124-134
Keywords Classification; Framework; Realist; Methodology; Mechanisms; Dimensions; Alzheimer’s Disease
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in The Gerontologist following peer review. The version of record Emily Cousins, Victoria Tischler, Claire Garabedian, Tom Dening, A Taxonomy of Arts Interventions for People With Dementia, The Gerontologist, , gnz024, is available online at: