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Researchers seek participants for study on an art intervention in aging

Researchers at Marshall University seek participants aged 55 or older for a new health study designed to examine the impact of visual art activities on the well-being of aging adults.

Many individuals report health benefits from participating in art activities as they age, which is generally supported by previous research. This health study, supported with funding from The Huntington Foundation, builds upon those principles to evaluate the effectiveness of a community-based visual art workshop as a way to improve multiple areas of health and well-being by using assessment tools for cognition, depression, stress, pain, social connection and loneliness.

Participants in this art workshop / health study will create small, colorful works of art on paper to combine into a larger, expressive individual work. Participants will meet for their art workshop six times for two hours. The art workshops will be taught by Marshall art alumni with oversight by Sandra Reed, professor of art at Marshall University. Participants will also learn fundamental principles of visual art, including basic color theory, how to use various art media and a method for image transfer. Participants will be encouraged to find personal meaning in their art and to share what they learn and create with others.

“This study is unique in our community-based approach to promoting multiple areas of health and well-being,” said Masa Toyama, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at Marshall University and principal investigator on the study. “As an interdisciplinary research team consisting of physicians as well as art and psychology professors and researchers, we hope to indicate potential health benefits of visual art activities that can be conducted outside of a doctor’s office.”

In addition to Toyama and Reed, physician faculty from the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine Cynthia Pinson, M.D., Martha Sommers, M.D., and Asma Nayyar, M.D., are collaborating on this study.

This study is open to the public. The study team will also work with local senior centers and organizations on study participation. The team will host the following information sessions for interested individuals to learn more about this health study:

  • 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, June 14, at Barboursville Senior Center, 721 Central Avenue
  • 10 a.m. Thursday, June 15, at Ceredo Senior Wellness Center, 484 Main Street

The first art workshop series will begin in July and two additional series will follow. For more information about these schedules, visit To participate, e-mail or call Toyama (Principal Investigator) at 304-696-2777 or Reed (Professor of Art) at 304-696-5671.

This project (IRB # 2041495) was approved by the Marshall University Institutional Review Board in the Office of Research Integrity, a group not associated with the study.