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:

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 |

Contemporary dance enhances physical fitness and psychological wellbeing

This research was conducted by Mary Kate Connolly, Edel Quin and Emma Redding at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance

Summary

This study assessed the physiological and psychological impact of contemporary dance classes on 55 girls aged 14 from secondary schools in the UK as part of the Dance 4 ...

By | 11 December 2014 |

Participating in cultural activities is associated with higher levels of life satisfaction

This research was conducted by Jennifer L. Brown, Ronald MacDonald and Richard Mitchell at the University of Glasgow, UK

Summary

This study asked whether people who participate in cultural leisure activities have higher life satisfaction than people who do not. It used data from Understanding Society, a national survey completed by ...

By | 12 September 2014 |

Choral singing has a soothing effect on heart rate

This research was conducted by Björn Vickhoff and eight others at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden and five other organisations.

Summary

This paper describes a study that showed how group singing affected the heart rate of 15 healthy 18 year olds in Sweden. They all spent five minutes humming, five ...

By | 21 May 2014 |

Cultural activity can improve the health of older people

This research was conducted by Gene D. Cohen and five others at George Washington University and other institutions, USA

Summary

This paper reports the results of a study into the effects of a cultural programme on the physical and mental health of the elderly. The research is based on a study ...

By | 7 May 2014 |

Lifelong musical experience can offset the effects that ageing has on the brain

This research was conducted by Alexandra Parbery-Clark, Samira Anderson, Emily Hittner, and Nina Kraus at Northwestern University, USA

Summary

As people age their brains become slower in processing sound. Musical training is known to strengthen the ability of people’s brains to process sound and so the paper reports the results ...

By | 26 April 2014 |

Helping Parkinson’s sufferers through ballet

This research was conducted by Sara Houston and Ashley McGill at the University of Roehampton, UK

Summary

This paper reports the results of a 12 week programme for people suffering from Parkinson’s Disease run by English National Ballet. The researchers observed how people responded to the sessions, conducting tests for ...

By | 16 April 2014 |