Participation in Life-Review Playback Theater Enhances Mental Health of Community-dwelling Older Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial


This article reports on a randomized control trial designed to assess the mental health effects of community-dwelling older adults’ participation in a 12-week playback theatre program. Playback theatre is a form of improvisational theatre that, “combines artistic expression with an exploration of life stories in a group creative process.” Before the program started, at its conclusion, and 3 months after the trial, participants reported on aspects of mental health, such as personal growth, relationships with others, well-being, and meaning in life. The results showed significant improvements in positive health indices that stayed stable 3 months after the program ended, confirming that, “participation in a structured short-term creative group playback theatre program induces a strong and persistent positive psychological effect in community-dwelling older adults.” The study stands out as an example of a randomized control tried carried out with a relatively small group of participants that focused on their responses to a particular artform. It demonstrates that even the most rigorous methods for impact assessment can be applied in a smaller-scale situation.  


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subject terms

Aging & Longevity

Aging & Longevity > Health: Brain & Mental

Aging & Longevity > Social Interaction & Isolation

Aging & Longevity > Vitality & Wellness

Community Engagement

Community Engagement > Community Engagement

Creative Aging > Creative Expression


Anat Gesser-Edelsburg

Shoshi Keisari

Yuval Palgi

Dani Yaniv

related organization

American Psychology Association (APA)

resource type

Research and Studies