Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

The impact of Arts on Prescription on individual health and wellbeing: A systematic review with meta-analysis

Holt, Nicola; Jensen, Anita; Bungay, Hilary


Profile Image

Nicola Holt
Associate Professor in Psychology

Anita Jensen

Hilary Bungay


Aims of project: The evidence-base for the impact of participating in the arts for health and wellbeing is growing. Arts on Prescription (AoP) has gained recognition as a method for fostering connections among individuals and communities, however, to date no systematic review of the impact on individual health and wellbeing has been conducted.

Methods: The systematic review followed PRISMA guidelines and used Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) templates and the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool (MMAT). Major electronic databases were systematically searched, including: Cochrane
Library; Web of Science; Pubmed; PsycINFO. A narrative review of the data and a meta-analysis of seven quantitative studies were conducted.

Results: 7805 records were identified but only 25 met the inclusion criteria. Studies were conducted in Australia, Denmark, Sweden, United Kingdom, and the United States. Programmes were held in community settings, arts venues, GP surgeries, primary healthcare settings, and one school. Most interventions ran for 8-10 weeks and included a wide range of arts activities. Qualitative themes included social benefits, psychological benefits, and progression opportunities. The meta-analysis showed a statistically significant improvement in wellbeing, with a mean wellbeing change of 5.82 (Z = 12.36, p < .001). Further quantitative studies explored process variables predicting wellbeing change and barriers to engagement.

Discussion: AoP programmes are an appropriate intervention for improving psychosocial wellbeing. Quantitative data consistently reported positive wellbeing change, and qualitative studies reported that participants found AoP meaningful. However, limitations were identified, including barriers to engagement and problems with the evidence base. Numerous barriers to engagement have been suggested, including physical, psychological, and social barriers, which have implications for practice. Further research is required to include comparator groups, assess longitudinal impact and the mechanisms by which AoP improves wellbeing (including the impact of different art activities and practices of facilitators). We hope that this review will be useful for practice and policy-making.


Holt, N., Jensen, A., & Bungay, H. (2024, June). The impact of Arts on Prescription on individual health and wellbeing: A systematic review with meta-analysis. Paper presented at International Social Prescribing Conference 2024, University of Westminster, London

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name International Social Prescribing Conference 2024
Conference Location University of Westminster, London
Start Date Jun 19, 2024
End Date Jun 20, 2024
Deposit Date Jun 19, 2024
Keywords Art on prescription, art on referral, arts and health, meta-analysis, systematic review
Public URL