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

Wai Kwong Man, Ho Yin Lai (Corresponding Author), Edwin Chi-Sing Yu, Grace Yuet-ying Lee

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages13
JournalAging and Mental Health
Early online date19 Jan 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Jan 2021


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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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