Retired People's Experience of Participation in Art Classes

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The role that different activities play in contributing to retired people's wellbeing is not well understood, a situation that needs to be addressed now that a long period of retirement is becoming the norm for millions of people in western societies. Research carried out over the last decade has explored some aspects of participation in various activities, such as exercise, but only a few studies have explored retirees' own perspectives. This qualitative research used phenomenological methods to explore art class activity as experienced by six retired people living in the community. The participants' perspectives were explored using unstructured interviews. The data were analysed using a phenomenological approach, as outlined by Van Kaam (1959, and described by Streubert and Carpenter 1995), and the participants then confirmed the findings.

Painting added a special dimension to the particpants' retirement: it gave satisfaction, challenge, time transformation, a sense of achievement, productivity and a boost to confidence. These results confirm and extend previous studies that link creative activities to wellbeing, including those that reveal how positive emotions contribute to health. Actual attendance at an art class was also seen as valuable, because working in a group was experienced as an inspiration and an opportunity to be encouraged by and to learn from others. The activity and the socialising seemed to be equally important aspects of attending an art class, which supports Wilcock's (2007) latest theories of the benefits of belonging. This research may contribute to the justification for participation in art or craft activity within the community, in occupational therapy practice or in settings such as residential homes, by providing further understanding of its meaning and value for retirees and its potential for promoting their health.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2008

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  • The British Journal of Occupational Therapy (BJOT) is the official journal of the College of Occupational Therapists. Its purpose is to publish articles relevant to theory, practice, research, education and management in occupational therapy internationally.

    BJOT publishes research articles, critical reviews, practice analyses, opinion pieces, editorials, letters to the editor, book reviews and an annual index. Please refer to the author's guide at

    Submissions can be made at

    The 2013 Impact Factor for The British Journal of Occupational Therapy is 0.897.

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