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:

Music activities benefit dementia patients and their carers

This research was conducted by Teppo Särkämö and six others at universities in Finland and the USA

Summary

Dementia is increasing worldwide, and with it the demand for low-cost and effective interventions to address both the symptoms and the reduced quality of life associated with the condition. This Finnish study showed …

By | 13 June 2016 |

Group singing improves the mental health of older adults

This research was conducted by Simon Coulton, Stephen Clift, Ann Skingley and John Rodriguez at the University of Kent, Canterbury Christ Church University and NHS Kent and Medway, UK

Summary

Older adults who took part in a community singing group had significantly improved scores in aspects of mental health compared to …

By | 18 February 2016 |

Music reduces stress during medical procedures

This research was conducted by N. Schneider, M. Schedlowski, T. H. Schürmeyer and H. Becke at Hannover Medical School, Germany

Summary

Hospital tests and treatments can be extremely stressful for patients, which can lead to pain, medical complications and unreliable test results. Tests used to diagnose serious medical conditions often involve …

By | 28 January 2016 |

Choral singing can help people living with aphasia

This research was conducted by Jeanette Tamplin and four others at the University of Melbourne, Royal Melbourne Hospital and Monash University, Australia

Summary

Group singing has been shown to have a beneficial impact on mood and sociability in a diverse range of therapeutic contexts, with positive outcomes for stress reduction, confidence …

By | 18 January 2016 |

Using culture in local development to increase wellbeing

This research was conducted by Annie Tubadji, Brian J. Osoba and Peter Nijkamp at the University of the Aegean, Greece, Central Connecticut State University, USA and VU University, The Netherlands

Summary

This paper explored the link between culture and regional development the US. The study aimed to expand the ‘culture-based development …

By | 11 January 2016 |

Dance raises your pain threshold and aids social bonding

This research was conducted by Bronwyn Tarr, Jacques Launay, Emma Cohen and Robin Dunbar at the University of Oxford, UK

Summary

Dance is a common cultural activity in which participants exert themselves in synchrony with music and with one another. Dancing is thought to help in the building of social bonds …

By | 7 January 2016 |

Using contemporary art to facilitate remembering and enhance wellbeing

This research was conducted by Anna Goulding at Newcastle University, UK.

Summary

This article describes how a visit to a contemporary art gallery can improve the wellbeing of elderly people, specifically by creating a bonding experience that allows people to share their memories and opinions about art. The research involved 19 …

By | 5 May 2015 |

The health benefits of arts interventions in a primary care setting

This research was conducted by Diane Crone and five other people at the University of Gloucestershire and elsewhere, UK

Summary

This study involved patients suffering from a variety of conditions, including anxiety, stress, depression, chronic pain, illness or bereavement. The patients were referred by a health professional to a 10-week art …

By | 5 May 2015 |

Social activities protect against health literacy decline in older age

This research was conducted by Lindsay C Kobayashi, Jane Wardle and Christian von Wagner at University College London, UK

Summary

This study investigated whether various activities protect against health literacy decline during ageing. Health literacy is the mix of functional literacy skills required to successfully manage one's health. Data came …

By | 5 May 2015 |

Engagement with contemporary visual art can improve the lives of older people

This research was conducted by Anna Goulding at Newcastle University, UK

Summary

Over a period of 21 months, 43 participants aged 60-92 visited three contemporary art galleries in the northeast of England. They listened to a talk before taking part in facilitated discussions in which personal responses to the artworks were …

By | 5 May 2015 |