DCMS Evidence Summary for Policy

Authors(s), Creator(s) and Contributors: Dr Daisy Fancourt, Katey Warran & Henry Aughterson

Publication Date: 01/04/2020

Categories: Resource Packs / Kits

The Role of the Arts in Improving Health & Wellbeing


This report synthesised the findings from over 3,500 studies on the role of the arts in the prevention of ill health, promotion of health, and management and treatment of illness across the lifespan. The reviewed evidence included study designs such as randomized controlled studies, nationally-representative longitudinal cohort studies, communitywide ethnographies, cross-sectional surveys, laboratory experiments, and case studies. The WHO report also made a series of policy suggestions to countries globally. However, the WHO report is a high-level evidence synthesis, so the details of studies included and assessments of the quality of the evidence base included is currently unclear.

Therefore, building on the findings from the WHO report, this review had three aims:
1. To review the evidence on how arts engagement can impact on the following three DCMS policy-relevant
outcomes: (i) social outcomes, (ii) youth development, and (iii) the prevention of mental and physical illness.
2. To review the evidence on how social prescribing programmes that have used arts interventions can impact on the
three outcomes above, again reviewing the types of studies and quality of the evidence base.
3. To provide a series of recommendations for how DCMS might invest in future research or academic collaboration
to build the evidence base on interventions impacting on these three outcomes.

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Tags: social prescribing, arts on prescription, mental health, physical health, evidence, research, arts, health

DCMS Evidence Summary for Policy