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Leisure activities alleviate depressive symptoms in nursing home residents with very mild or mild dementia


Cheng, Sheung-Tak, Chow, Pizza K., Yu, Edwin C.S., Chan, Alfred C.M.


The American Journal Of Geriatric Psychiatry: Official Journal Of The American Association For Geriatric Psychiatry, Volume: 20, No.: 10, Pages.: 904-908

Year of Publication



Objectives: : To examine whether leisure activities can alleviate depressive symptoms among nursing home residents with very mild to mild dementia.; Methods: : A cluster-randomized open-label controlled design. Thirty-six residents with at least moderate depressive symptoms were randomized by home into three conditions-mahjong (a.k.a. mah-jongg), tai chi, and handicrafts (placebo). Activities were conducted three times weekly for 12 weeks. Outcome measure was Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) administered at baseline, posttreatment, and at 6 months.; Results: : Repeated-measures analysis of variance showed a group by time interaction on the GDS. Unlike control and tai chi participants whose scores remained relatively unchanged, the mahjong group reported a drop of 3.25 points (95% confidence interval: 1.00-5.50) on the GDS at posttreatment but gained back 2.83 points (95% confidence interval: 1.95-5.47) at 6 months. Activity discontinuation might be the reason for depression to return to baseline.; Conclusions: : Mahjong can lower depressive symptoms in those with mild dementia, but activity maintenance may be essential for long-term effects.;

Bibtex Citation

@article{Cheng_2012, doi = {10.1097/jgp.0b013e3182423988}, url = {}, year = 2012, month = {oct}, publisher = {Elsevier {BV}}, volume = {20}, number = {10}, pages = {904--908}, author = {Sheung-Tak Cheng and Pizza K. Chow and Edwin C.S. Yu and Alfred C.M. Chan}, title = {Leisure Activities Alleviate Depressive Symptoms in Nursing Home Residents With Very Mild or Mild Dementia}, journal = {The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry} }


aged, 80 and over, chi, complications, dementia, depression, diagnosis, eol, female, hanidcrafts, humans, leisure activities, mahjong, male, nursing homes, play and playthings, psychiatric status rating scales, psychology, statistics & numerical data, tai, tai ji, therapy

Countries of Study

Hong Kong

Types of Dementia

Dementia (general / unspecified)

Types of Study

Cluster RCT

Type of Outcomes

Depression and Anxiety


Nursing Homes

Type of Interventions

Non-pharmacological Treatment

Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions

Arts and Music Interventions (including Art and Music Therapy), Complementary therapies, Exercise (inc. dancing), Social activities (e.g. lunch clubs, cinema outings, trips to sporting events etc, peer support)