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Research based theatre in dementia knowledge transfer: views from the front line

Elaine Argyle (School of Education, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)
Justine Schneider (School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)

The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice

ISSN: 1755-6228

Article publication date: 9 May 2016




Formal ties between the theatre and research dissemination have only recently developed and its general efficacy is largely unknown. Here the purpose of this paper is to redress this neglect by examining the effectiveness of a research-based theatrical event in promoting dementia knowledge transfer with a group of front line care workers. The event ran over eight days and consisted of an original theatrical production followed by a chaired audience discussion and workshops.


Questionnaires which had been developed specifically for this evaluation were completed by 863 front line workers on the day of the event, eliciting their profiles and immediate reactions. Three months after the event, 30 completed a follow-up questionnaire and eight were interviewed.


Attendance was well received with high degrees of both cognitive and emotional engagement being expressed in the initial questionnaire. The follow-up evaluation suggested that these positive reactions were sustained over time. However, many taking part in this follow-up thought that their practice had not changed as a result of event attendance. This apparent discrepancy between knowledge transfer and utilisation appeared to be partly the result of the influence of contextual factors in impeding this utilisation within work settings.


Evidence is provided on the positive impact of theatre on dementia carers’ working lives. This is sufficient to warrant further applications of this method, provided there is careful attention to embedding the messages in the workplace context and evaluating their efficacy.



Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust; Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust; Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; RCN Foundation; University of Nottingham; CLAHRC NDL NIHR.


Argyle, E. and Schneider, J. (2016), "Research based theatre in dementia knowledge transfer: views from the front line", The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 102-111.



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Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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