Barriers to the Success of Recreational Groups for Persons With Dementia

Jiska Cohen-Mansfield*, Barbara Jensen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: This paper describes barriers to engagement in the context of group activities attended by nursing home residents with dementia. Objective: The goal is to clarify the presence and types of barriers to group activities for persons with dementia. Methods: Therapeutic recreation staff (TRs) who conducted the group activities, and trained research observers (ROs) independently identified barriers occurring during group activity sessions through ratings and open-ended comments, which were analyzed via a mixed-method approach. Results: Barriers were related to specific participant, environmental, and group session characteristics. Most frequently noted barriers were participant-related, pertaining to apathy and challenging behavior. Noise was the most frequent environmental barrier. Overall, ROs reported more barriers than TRs, yet TRs reported the barrier of inappropriate topic more frequently than ROs. Conclusions: The study suggests that the number and specific types of barriers are associated with negative engagement outcomes. Insight into these barriers is the first step toward addressing them and minimizing their effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-46
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022


FundersFunder number
Morris Justein Visiting Scholars Program
Rotman Family
Minerva Foundation3158329500


    • activity groups
    • apathy
    • barriers
    • dementia
    • engagement
    • nursing home


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