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 effects of music listening at different life stages

This research was conducted by Jenny M. Groarke and Michael J. Hogan at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

Summary

This study sought to determine how mood enhancement and other positive effects of music listening interact to support wellbeing, and how these factors differed between younger and older people. Mood regulation …

The impact of cultural activities on the wellbeing of immigrants

This research was conducted by Eleftherios Giovanis at Aydın Adnan Menderes University, Turkey

Summary

This paper explores the ‘participation of migrants in socio-cultural activities related to arts, theatre, concerts and sports events’ and the impact of that participation on subjective well-being (SWB). The research looked at the experience of first, second …

Music and singing can help with pain management

This research was conducted by Amy LiKamWa and four others at the University of Florida, USA

Summary

This paper describes a pilot study which took 40 healthy adults and tested their pain sensitivity and tolerance during moments of silence, when they listened to music, and when they were singing. The research …