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:

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 |

Attendance at cultural events associated with longevity

This research was conducted by Boinkum B Konlaan, Lars O Bygren and Sven-Erik Johansson at the University of Umeå and Department of Welfare and Social Statistics, Sweden.

Summary

Previous research has shown that attendance at cultural events is associated with a longer life expectancy. This study aimed to determine whether specific …

By | 3 August 2018 |

The relationship between subjective wellbeing and engagement in arts, culture and sport

This research was conducted by Daniel Wheatley at the University of Birmingham and Craig Bickerton at Nottingham Trent University

Summary

This study explored the relationship between an individual’s self-assessment of their overall wellbeing and taking part in arts, cultural and sporting activities. Social survey data from 40,000 UK households …

By | 22 March 2018 |

The health benefits of an arts project for older offenders

This research was conducted by Dean J. Wilkinson at the University of Worcester and Laura S. Caulfield at Bath Spa University

Summary

Prisoners over the age of 50 are known to experience high rates of physical and mental illnesses, meaning their specific support and rehabilitation needs are often neglected within current …

By | 22 February 2018 |

Prolonged arts education reduces stress in children from low-income households

This research was conducted by Eleanor D. Brown, Mallory L. Garnett, and Kate E. Anderson at West Chester University and Jean-Philippe Laurenceau at the University of Delaware, USA.

Summary

Children growing up in deprived households are known to experience higher levels of physiological stress, which in turn results in a range …

By | 19 February 2018 |

Long-term improvements in wellbeing and social inclusion through art for people with mental health difficulties

This research was conducted by Ceri Wilson, Jenny Secker and Lyn Kent at Anglia Ruskin University and Jo Keay at Open Arts Essex.

Summary

This study explored whether improvement in wellbeing and social inclusion through the arts is maintained long-term for those experiencing (or at risk of) mental health problems. At …

By | 8 February 2018 |

Treating dementia using arts interventions

This research was conducted by Kate de Medeiros and Anne Basting at Miami University and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA.

Summary

Effective care for people with dementia is made more challenging by a lack of effective treatments for the condition. Arts interventions are becoming more popular due to their ability to effect …

By | 20 July 2017 |

Managing dementia through object handing in museums

This research was conducted by Paul M. Camic, Sabina Hulbert and Jeremy Kimmel at Canterbury Christ Church University, UK

Summary

The importance of subjective health and wellbeing for individuals with dementia is often overlooked in favour of a highly medicalised approach to care. Dementia management presents a significant societal challenge worldwide …

By | 13 July 2017 |

Frequent attendance at cultural events associated with reduced cancer mortality

This research was conducted by Lars Olov Bygren and five others at Universities in Sweden, Norway and the USA.

Summary

This paper describes a long-term study looking at correlations between taking part in certain cultural activities and cancer mortality. In general, people in urban areas who frequently attended cultural events (cinemas …

By | 10 July 2017 |

The benefits of arts engagement for people experiencing mental health issues

This research was conducted by Sue Hacking, Jenny Secker, Helen Spandler, Lyn Kent and Jo Shenton at the University of Central Lancashire and Anglia Ruskin University, UK.

Summary

This paper looked at arts participation among people with mental health needs. It reports improvement in levels of empowerment with promising effects on …

By | 29 June 2017 |