The aim of this study was to examine the effects of visual art therapy (VAT) on cognition, psychological and functional ability of people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and low education.
A single-blinded randomized controlled trial was conducted among 127 older adults with MCI, mean age 73.6 years and level of education in years, (median (range)) = 0 (0 – 9). The intervention group received 12 VAT sessions over six weeks. The control group received six health education sessions. The outcomes measures at baseline, immediately after intervention, at three-months and six-month follow up included global cognitive functions, depression, mental wellbeing and instrumental activities of daily living functions.
The intervention group demonstrated greater improvement than the control group in global cognition (β =2.56, (95% CI =1.16, 3.97), p< .001, standardized mean difference (SMD) = 0.75), and depression (β =-2.01, (95% CI =-3.09, -0.93), p< .001, SMD = -0.93) immediately post intervention. The effects on cognitive functions were sustained at three and six-months follow ups. The differential effect of VAT on mental wellbeing and functional ability compared to health education were undetectable.
Visual art therapy can improve cognitive functions and mood status of older adults with MCI who have no or low education.