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Effects of traditional Cantonese opera songs on Cantonese-speaking, community-dwelling older adults' cognitive and psychological function, well-being, and health

Contact Information


Frank Ho-Yin Lai,

Cognitive functioning; physical health measures; psychological and social aspects; quality of life/ wellbeing.


Objectives: Experiencing multi-sensory cognitive stimulation through the enjoyment of Cantonese opera songs, with their lively rhythms, familiar folk tales, meaningful lyrics and pleasant scenarios, has the potential to increase neuroplasticity and prevent cognitive decline.Methods: This prospective pre- and post-test quasi-experimental randomised controlled trial design study aimed to explore the social benefits of older adults' active participation in practising Cantonese opera songs as compared with passive participation (as an audience) and a non-interventional control group on cognitive function psychological function, functional independence, well-being and health.Results: By recruiting a group of older adults who were receiving day activities social service in Hong Kong. Thirty participants were randomly allocated to active participation in Cantonese opera (ACO). They participated in practising Cantonese opera songs. Thirty-four participants were assigned to passive participation in Cantonese opera (PCO). They received passive intervention by listening to and appreciating the opera songs as a social event. Thirty-one participants were used as a control group and received no similar training. (Results) ACO caused a positive change in cognitive function as compared to PCO and to no intervention, which implies that active learning and practise of opera songs benefits global cognitive function. The psychological function of the participants in the PCO group showed an elevated positive affect and a reduced negative affect. A statistically significant difference was noted in the time effect among the physical domains of health status, functional independence and well-being of participants who underwent Cantonese opera intervention.


Man, D. W., Lai, F. H., Yu, E. C., & Lee, G. Y. (2022). Effects of traditional Cantonese opera songs on Cantonese-speaking, community-dwelling older adults' cognitive and psychological function, well-being, and health. Aging & mental health, 26(5), 958–970.





Conent Area

David Wai-kwong Man

EWB-Related Construct

(2) life satisfaction; (3) positive affect; (4) quality of life; (5) sense of meaning

Study Design

Species or Study Population

(5) RCT

Sex (%Female)


Age (Mean, SD)

83.52, 7.25

Younger Controls?


Longitudinal Data?


Sample Size



10-session Cantonese Opera Training Program (twice per week, each session lasting 1 hour)

Ethnicity (%white)

0% (Hong Kong)

Inclusion Criteria

(1) age between 65 and 88 inclusive;
(2) the ability to understand verbal and written Chinese instructions;
(3) the ability and willingness to provide informed consent and sign the relevant document.

Exclusion Criteria

(1) the presence of major neurological illness,
(2) with severe visual, hearing and speech problems;
(3) with other known psychi- atric diagnosis.

EWB Measures

(1) Positive and Negative Affect Scales
(2) WHOQoL-Brief:

Non-EWB Behavioral

(1) Global Cognitive level
(2) Visual and Auditory Attention Test
(3) Memory Performance: Hong Kong List Learning Test.
(4) Geriatric Depression Scale
(5) Hong Kong Lawton Instrumental Activities of Daily Living Scale
(6) medical outcomes study 36 items short-form health survey

Physiological Measures


Brain IMaging Modality

Brain IMaging Paradigm


Brain Region/Circuit


Biological Measures


Other Neural Measures

Data Availability?


Data Avalability Details


Diagnostic Measures

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