Health and wellbeing impacts of arts and culture

This section contains research looking into the ways in which cultural engagement benefits people's physical health and psychological wellbeing. There is a relatively strong evidence base for the therapeutic benefits of cultural engagement, whether that takes place within a clinical setting, or more generally in one's daily life. The studies translated here describe experiments within hospitals and other clinical settings, as well as research looking at population-wide data sets.

You can find out more about this area of research from places such as the Sidney DeHaan Research Centre for Music Arts and Health, the Arts Health and Wellbeing Research Programme, and the National Alliance for Arts Health and Wellbeing.

The summaries in this category are:

Cultural engagement lowers the risk of developing dementia in old age

This research was conducted by Daisy Fancourt, Andrew Steptoe and Dorina Cadar at University College London

Summary

This paper demonstrates that taking part in community cultural engagement lowers the risk of developing dementia in old age. The research team analysed data from 9,550 adults aged 50 who were part of …

Using dance therapy to prevent falls

This research was conducted by Trish Vella-Burrows and four others at Canterbury Christ Church University

Summary

This paper relates the findings from an evaluation of ‘Dance to Health’: a scheme designed integrate known physiotherapy falls-prevention exercises into a creative dance programme. The programme was shown to have supported and enhanced physical …

How art-making aids recovery from mental health challenges

This research was conducted by Karen Gallant and four others at Dalhousie University and the University of Manitoba, Canada

Summary

This paper addressed the question of how art-making and exhibiting impacts recovery from mental health conditions. It asked artists themselves to reflect on their experiences. The study found that the arts …

The effect of music and movement on mother-infant interactions

This research was conducted by Wendy Vlismas, Stephen Malloch and Denis Burnham at the University of Western Sydney, Australia.

Summary:

In this work, a group of researchers investigated the effects of music and movement (M&M) on the interactions between first time mothers and their 2–6-month-old infants. They also evaluated the …

Dance can improve quality of life for those with Parkinson’s Disease

This research was conducted by Alice Davies and Ian Patrick Noonan at King’s College London.

Summary

Parkinson’s Disease frequently impacts the balance and gait of sufferers and participation in dance programmes has been shown to generate improvements in patients. This article consolidates the existing literature on the topic. It …

Help prevent depression in old age by staying culturally active

This research was conducted by Daisy Fancourt and Urszula Tymoszuk at University College London.

Summary

This paper explored whether cultural attendance by older adults is associated with a reduced risk of developing depression. The paper considered attendance to comprise visits to the theatre, concerts or opera, the cinema and art galleries …

Understanding the relationship between happiness and arts attendance

This research was conducted by Chris Hand at Kingston University.

Summary

This research took data from two years of the Taking Part survey (2012-2013) and compared people’s happiness levels with their arts attendance. The research was therefore based on a data set of more than 7,000 people. Overall there …

The wellbeing benefits of theatre attendance later in life

This research was conducted by Suzanne Meeks, Russell J. Vandenbroucke and S. Kelly Shryock at the University of Louisville, USA

Summary

This paper looked at the impact of theatre attendance on the wellbeing of a group of Americans aged over 60. The researchers found that attending live theatre ‘may contribute significantly …

By | 9 February 2021 |

A ballet-based dance intervention for people with Parkinson’s

This research was conducted by Ashley McGill, Sara Houston and Raymond Y.W. Lee at the University of Roehampton and the University of Portsmouth.

Summary

Parkinson’s disease is characterised by loss of balance and stability, which can have a two-way detrimental impact on an individual’s quality of life by …

By | 21 August 2018 |

Your brain on music

This research was conducted by Ping Huang, Hanhua Huang, Qiuling Luo, and Lei Mo at South China Normal University

Summary

Philosophers and scientists have long been trying to understand what happens in our heads when we listen to music. This study took a group of 18 volunteers in China and put …

By | 21 August 2018 |