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First WHO report on the evidence base for arts and health interventions

Date posted: 17 December 2019

The World Health Organisation (WHO) launched its first report on the evidence base for arts and health interventions in November 2019. The Health Evidence Network (HEN) synthesis report maps the global academic literature, referencing over 900 publications, including 200 reviews covering over 3000 further studies. As such, the report is the most comprehensive evidence review of arts and health to date. 

Background

WHO/Europe and European Member States recognize the importance of culture in shaping health and wellbeing throughout the life course. The cultural contexts of health and wellbeing (CCH) project was established as a cross-cutting initiative within WHO that takes a systematic approach to understanding how culture affects perceptions, access to and experiences of health and wellbeing.

By supplementing quantitative data with qualitative research from the social sciences and broader health humanities, the CCH project can enhance our understanding of people’s needs, values, perceptions and experiences of the world around them in order to improve the health and wellbeing of all. The HEN report on arts and health was developed as part of this work.

The evidence synthesized in the report will be used to provide suggestions for integrating the arts, social care and health sectors to support health and wellbeing throughout the life course and across the continuum of care.

Report

‘What is the evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and well-being? A scoping review’ is a HEN synthesis report by Daisy Fancourt, Associate Professor and Wellcome Research Fellow, Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care, University College London, and Saoirse Finn, Visiting Researcher, Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care, University College London.

This report synthesizes the global evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and wellbeing, with a specific focus on the WHO European Region. Results from over 3000 studies identified a major role for 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 uncontrolled pilot studies, case studies, small-scale cross-sectional surveys, nationally representative longitudinal cohort studies, community-wide ethnographies and randomized controlled trials from diverse disciplines.

Access the report here: https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/329834/9789289054553-eng.pdf

Fact Sheet: ‘What is the evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and well-being in the WHO European Region?’

WHO Europe Brief: ‘Intersectoral action: the arts, health and well-being’

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