The Creative and Aging Study began in 2001 and ran to 2006. Dr. Gene Cohen, a psychiatrist and director of George Washington University's Center on Aging, Health and the Humanities, was the principal investigator. The National Endowment for the Arts, National Institutes of Health and four other federal and nonfederal programs funded the study.
Cohen had conducted several studies previously on the health benefits of creativity on senior adults. The Creative and Aging Study further explored that theory.
The study was conducted over a period of years at three sites: Washington, D.C., metro; Brooklyn, N.Y.; and San Francisco. Each site had 100 participants, divided 50/50 into a control group and an intervention group. Participants ranged in age from 65 to 103, with an average age of 80. The groups included men and women with diverse ethnic and racial heritages.
The intervention groups participated in weekly arts programs. The control groups did not. The effects of participation began showing up within the first year of the study.
According to an executive summary of the study, results "point to powerful intervention effects of these community-based art programs run by professional artists. They point to true health promotion and disease prevention effects" and to "a positive impact on maintaining independence and on reducing dependency."
The summary goes on to state that "the community-based cultural program for older adults appears to be reducing risk factors that drive the need for long-term care."
The Creative and Aging Study can be found on Encore Chorale's website at http://encorecreativity.org.