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:

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 |

The arts may improve health, wellbeing and vitality

This research was conducted by Lars Olov Bygren and seven others at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden and elsewhere

Summary

The paper reports the results of an experiment in which 101 people were randomly assigned to either engage in an arts experience or do nothing artistic at all. The types of …

By | 14 April 2014 |

Music can be used as a way for people to control their mood and environment

This research was conducted by Kari Batt-Rawden at the Eastern Norway Research Institute, Norway

Summary

The research asked people with long-term illnesses in Norway the role and significance that music played in their lives, and how they used music for specific health and wellbeing purposes. Although cautious of drawing conclusions from …

By | 14 April 2014 |

Singing can help the immune system and improve mood

This research was conducted by Gunter Kreutz, Stephan Bongard, Sonja Rohrmann, Volker Hodapp, and Dorothee Grebe at Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main, Germany [Now at the University of Oldenburg, Germany]

Summary

The research compared the levels of immunoglobulin A (S-IgA), cortisol and emotional states of people after they had participated in …

By | 14 April 2014 |

Theatre training can improve cognitive function and psychological wellbeing of older people

This research was conducted by Helga Noice, Tony Noice and Graham Staines at Elmhurst College, Indiana State University and National Development and Research Institutes, USA

Summary

This paper reports an experiment to investigate the benefits of an acting programme on the cognitive functioning and quality of life for elderly people in …

By | 10 April 2014 |