A-Health RCT: Effects of participatory art-based activity at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts on health of community-dwelling elders – A randomized controlled trial


Findings from A-Health, a pre-post single arm pilot study led by the Centre of Excellence in 2018, indicated that curated, sustained and professionally-lead museum-participatoryart- based activity can competently improve well-being, quality of life, and health in older, community-dwelling elders.

The success of this pilot study has led to the empirical expansion of A-Health via a 36-month international Randomized Control Trial (RCT) for testing its effectiveness, relative to health enhancement among older adults of different societal and cultural groups. This RCT will involve multiple centers (i.e. museums/galleries) in numerous countries.

The Centre of Excellence on Longevity of McGill University, in partnership with universities and museums, will develop and implement the different national versions of the A-Health Study. The research data generated will be analyzed locally and merged with the international RCT data set for overall and comparative analysis.

Specifically in Montreal, and in order to better understand previous clinical results observed at a neurophysiological level, we intend to examine changes in functional connectivity in the default mode cerebral network which is associated with participatory art-based activity in community-dwelling elders.


  • To compare the changes 1) well-being 2) quality of life, and 3) health condition in community-dwelling elders participating in the MMFA’s participatory art-based activity
  • To examine how the participatory art-based activity changes functional connectivity of the default mode cerebral network, and whether reported changes are related to enhanced mental and physical health in community-dwelling elders


The design is a unicentre (each centre is autonomous), clinical, randomized, controlled, single blinded (i.e.; investigators), superiority trial, with two parallel arms (Intervention and Control groups) to be compared (comparison of Intervention and Control groups) and analyzed with the intention-to-treat.

Members of the Intervention group will be participants in the MMFA participatory art-based activity. The Control group will be composed of community-dwelling elders who will not be participating in the MMFA participation-based artistic activity. The follow-up period will be three months, which is the duration of a session of the MMFA participatory art-based activity. Assessment of well-being, quality of life and health condition will be performed at baseline, at the beginning of second and third months, and at the end of the third month. At the end of the study, data from each centre will be merged, and an international analysis will be performed.


To recreate a relationship between the elderly and their environment

To increase well-being, health and quality of life

To prove the hypothesis that there exists a simple and inexpensive solution which can be put in place to promote active aging and good health on a major scale: in primary and secondary prevention

To offer new directions for the research and development of health promotion programs which prioritize nonpharmacological approaches

To promote such a participatory art-based activity cultural program on an international scale

To reduce the economic burden presented by the pernicious consequences of population aging

To reduce the volume of medication taken and healthcare dependency


Montreal Neurological Institute, Montreal

Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières

Baycrest University, Toronto (ON)

French Ministry of Culture, Paris (France)

Centre-Hospitalier Universitaire, Nice (France)

Artocene, Oxford (UK)

Cornelius Foundation for the Arts, London (UK)

Loughborough University, Loughborough (UK)

Department of Psychiatry and Rehabilitative Medicine, New-York University, New York City (USA)

Cleveland Arts and Medicine Institute, Cleveland (USA)

Department of Internal Medicine, Hadassah University, Jerusalem (Israel)

Israel Museum, Jerusalem (Israel)

Arts Alive, Tokyo (Japan)

Nanyang Technological University, Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (Singapore)

National Museum and National Gallery (Singapore)

Museum of Modern Art, New York (USA)