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How do you measure the moment?

Prof Paul Camic explains some of the methods that have been used to measure psychological and physiological responses in people living with dementia.
Our interest in measuring a moment involves looking at both the psychological as well as the physiological aspects of that moment. One of the psychological ways that we’ve measured the moment is the development of the Canterbury Wellbeing Scales, which looks at moments that might be from one to two hours. So it’s a very easy to administer and to complete and to fill out scale for people with early to middle-stage dementia that gives us a sense of their subjective well-being over the course of that activity. We’re also, however, interested in those micro-moments about what happens physiologically when someone is engaged in an art activity.
And one of the ways that we’ve begun to measure people is to look at their heart rates, something called their skin response, their galvanic skin response, which is tiny, tiny bits of perspiration that occur in the skin, as well as their bodily movements. And these are captured through a wrist band device very similar to a watch that is easily attached to a person’s wrist and is not obtrusive and causes no discomfort. So we’re able to get continuous measurement from the beginning of the activity to the end of that activity to look at how different components of the activity might have an impact physiologically on the person.
One of the new methods we tried, and that we’re very excited about, because the results are just coming out, is working with people with severe dementia. This is at their late stage of dementia. They’re in a care home. And the work we did was with a music and singing group involving the care staff as well as people with dementia. And we used a 360-degree camera, which is a very small camera, smaller than a tennis ball, that’s placed in the centre of the room that allows us to capture interactions between people with dementia, the care staff, and musicians at the same time. And we’re not aware of any other research that’s done this before.
So we really want to hone in on those– as I said earlier, those micro-moments that allow us to find out what’s going on within those music sessions. We’ve had several challenges initially in trying to capture people’s physiological responses. And one was with a way of measuring saliva, which looks at stress responses we tried out. We trialled that and found although it wasn’t disturbing for the people with dementia to give us saliva samples before and after an arts activity, it took a bit of time to do that. And we felt that it was beginning to interfere with some of the enjoyment of that activity.
So we’ve switched to getting ongoing and continuous physiological measurements with a wrist band, which has really proven to be easily adaptable and acceptable by just about all of our participants. If you considering, as a researcher, measuring physiological responses, I think one of the things that is quite obvious– that consent has to be obtained by the person with dementia. And if they can’t obtain that consent– if you can’t obtain that consent, it would need to be obtained from the caregiver. And in all situations, I think it’s important that physiological responses are measured by non-intrusive ways, that it doesn’t cause any distress or minimises any possible distress and also doesn’t overly interfere with the arts activity.
Because if that happens, you won’t really be measuring the involvement in the arts activity anymore, but measuring their reaction to the physiological measurement. And I think those would be the areas that I would think about most importantly that are essential components of doing physiological measurement.

In this video you will learn about some of the methods that have been used to measure psychological and physiological in-the-moment responses of people living with dementia during arts-based activities.

Prof Paul Camic explains some of the challenges that have been encountered as well as some elements of good clinical practice that need to be adopted when measuring physiological responses in participants living with a dementia.

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Dementia and the Arts: Sharing Practice, Developing Understanding and Enhancing Lives

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