Date Presented 04/21/2023

After a 12-week dance class for community-dwelling older adults, there were improvements in the areas of occupational performance and self-efficacy.

Primary Author and Speaker: Paige Gresens

Additional Authors and Speakers: Alexander Furlow, Kyra Neuser, Lesley M. Thao, Kristen A. Pickett, Sarah A. Zurawski

Contributing Authors: Susan Frikken

PURPOSE: Dance has been shown to improve balance and overall health for older adults (Hwang & Braun, 2015). Ballroom dancing specifically has been cited as a meaningful occupation with a link to successful aging and well-being (Stevens-Ratchford, 2016). However, little research has addressed the effectiveness of community-based dance classes for older adults on occupational performance problems. This pilot study of the Ballroom Basics for Balance (BB4B) program examined the effectiveness of the program in addressing performance and satisfaction of self-identified occupational performance problem areas, balance, gait, balance confidence and falls self-efficacy.

DESIGN: We conducted a quasi-experimental, pre-post study (clinical trials #: NCT05290259) of a 12-week community dance program developed and led by author SF.

METHOD: 13 participants (3 males, 70.5 +/- 4.8 years of age) were recruited from an ongoing community BB4B class. Multiple participants had previously completed a BB4B program. Pre and post-test assessments included the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure (COPM), the Activity Balance Confidence scale (ABCs), the Fall Efficacy Scale (FES), the Mini-BESTest, and a standardized gait assessment. Paired sample t-tests were used to compare pre to posttest performance.

RESULTS: Posttest assessments were limited by a portion of the participants contracting COVID. Where necessary, assessments were completed by phone. Across all 13 participants, significant improvements were seen in COPM performance and satisfaction scores for the top 3 self-identified occupational performance problem areas (p-values < 0.05). Similar to previous studies, ABCs (p-value = 0.041) and FES (p-value = 0.02) scores improved from pre to posttest.

CONCLUSION: The BB4B program increased COPM satisfaction and performance scores and improved balance confidence. These improvements may have a direct effect on quality of life and health outcomes, for this population.


Hwang, P. W. N., & Braun, K. L. (2015). The effectiveness of dance interventions to improve older adults’ health: a systematic literature review. Alternative therapies in health and medicine, 21(5), 64.

Letts, L., Edwards, M., Berenyi, J., Moros, K., O'Neill, C., O'Toole, C., & McGrath, C. (2011). Using occupations to improve quality of life, health and wellness, and client and caregiver satisfaction for people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. The American journal of occupational therapy : official publication of the American Occupational Therapy Association, 65(5), 497–504.

Stevens-Ratchford, R. G. (2016). Ballroom dance: Linking serious leisure to successful aging. The International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 83(3), 290-308.